Philemon worships his wife, Matilda. Despite the daily oppression of apartheid life in 1950s Johannesburg, he is a happy man. All of this changes when Philemon returns home to discover Matilda with another lover who narrowly escapes, leaving his suit behind on a hanger. Caught in a vortex of emotions ranging from jealousy to embarrassment to rage, Philemon sets forth a humiliating punishment for his wife: to go on with life as usual but treat the suit as her eternal honored guest and take it with her everywhere she goes as a constant reminder of her betrayal.
Based on a short story by Can Themba, the suit becomes a permanent thorn in the couple's daily life as Matilda is forced to set an extra place at the table every night and introduce the suit to their neighbors and friends.
For this production, acclaimed director Peter Brook--whose 1987 production of The Mahabharata inaugurated the BAM Majestic Theater (now the BAM Harvey Theater)--returns to BAM with Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord to showcase his signature approach of innovative stage design and integration of live music. To tell this tale of simmering resentment and tragedy, Brook blends a minimalist aesthetic with a soundscape that includes a hummed version of "Strange Fruit," traditional African melodies, and Schubert lieder to thicken the tension between a collectively wounded husband and wife.