JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE SECRET LIFE OF SUITCASES at the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, for The Scotsman 5.4.14.
4 stars ****
IMAGINE THAT YOU lived in a universe run by benign, hairy quarks, cheery particles who occasionally send a suitcase full of fun and happiness to people who don’t know how to enjoy themselves. That’s the universe conjured up in this latest touring show for children around 5-7 by writer Lewis Hetherington and puppet artist Ailie Cohen; and although the idea may seem far-fetched, the show itself is completely delightful.
So Ailie Cohen and her fellow-performer Nick Conte appear at first in brown suits, as they conjure up the life of their puppet hero Larry, a man who works in an old-fashioned office, is always very busy, and never has time for any fun. One day, though, Larry finds a small suitcase by his desk; and when he opens it, he finds himself on a journey that takes him through countryside and across seas – Cohen and Conte pull on coloured t-shirts to provide an appropriate backdrop – until he finds himself somewhere in hyperspace, where he meets the quarks.
The message about making time for the magic of life is simple; yet it seems to strike a chord with a generation of children brought up in a long-hours culture that places huge pressure on family life. And with the help of attractive lighting by Andrew Gannon, and sound by Niroshini Thambar, Larry’s story is presented here with a warmth and inventiveness that wins the rapt attention of its young audience, for a thoughtful, funny and rewarding 45 minutes.
The Secret Life Of Suitcases in Benbecula today, Skye, Mull and Inverness next week, and on tour until 10 May.