The Suit was written in the 1950s by Can Themba, an intellectual dissident whose work was suppressed under apartheid law. Its first production was in South Africa’s Market Theatre in 1993.
Adapted for the stage by Barney Simon and Mothobi Mutloatse, the play is a musical tale of a lover’s inventive revenge. It tips from comedy to tragedy and back again like a colorful roller coaster. Set against the backdrop of apartheid Africa, this is a play that, by looking at one man’s reaction to his wife’s infidelity, expands to ponder a larger picture of trust, forgiveness and a tormented society.
One day, Philemon finds his wife, Tilly, in bed with another man. As the man scrambles out through the window, Philemon takes a more thoughtful and painful revenge rather than raging at his wife. From now on, the suit that the fleeing lover has left behind is to be treated as an honored guest in their house: it must sit during meals with them, be served and fed by Tilly, and even lie in bed next to them every night. In this way, the presence of the suit is used as a constant reminder to Tilly of her betrayal; but it also serves to constantly remind Philemon, too, and a constant drip of poison enters their lives.
Peter Brook was born in London in 1925. Throughout his career, he distinguished himself in the various genres of theater, opera, cinema and writing. He was the representative figure in the 1950s and 1960s on the drama stage, and impacted the drama afterwards deeply. This time it will be the debut of one of his most excellent dramatic works, The Suit, in China.