Theater Review: THE RED SUITCASE (Broadwater Theatre Main Stage in Hollywood)

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by Jakera Willis on August 14, 2023

in Theater-Los Angeles


The Red Suitcase, written by Jiggs Burgess and directed by Del Shores, with assistant direction and additional staging by Blake McIver Ewing, is a remarkable play that delves into the complexities of the father-son relationship and the moments that shape our lives. The play, seeing its world premiere at the Broadwater Theatre Mainstage, takes us on a poignant journey from birth to the loss of Pogue’s (Emerson Collins) father, unraveling memories and exploring the stories that define and connect us all.

Tiago Santos, Pam Trotter, Emerson Collins and Mat Hayes

From the very beginning, The Red Suitcase captivates and enlightens its audience, offering gut-wrenching truths that force us to confront our own vulnerabilities…and sometimes long-standing grudges. The audience is immediately enthralled in Pogue’s story as Players 1 (Mat Hayes), 2 (Pam Trotter) and 3 (Tiago Santos) help narrate and guide us in and out of Pogue’s past and present. The use of suitcases throughout the show was masterfully done as they were used to symbolize bumpy rides down dirt roads, waves crashing against a shore, a garden, and so much more. The suitcases were as transformative as they were resourceful on stage.

Kristen McCullough and Bruce Melena

Grandma Evans (Charlotte Louise White) serves as Pogue’s emotional anchor and imparts invaluable wisdom that resonates long after the play concludes. Her golden advice should be a lifeline for many in the audience, providing solace and inspiration. The play’s emotional depth is felt from beginning to end, evoking sadness, introspection, honesty, and restoration all at once. It unearths buried emotions and memories, inviting us to learn the art of forgiveness while acknowledging that certain experiences will never be forgotten.

Tiago Santos, Emerson Collins and Bruce Melena

A truly special moment occurs when the fourth wall is broken, and the lights illuminate the audience, leaving them feeling as exposed and vulnerable as Pogue himself. This show is truly a mirror which the audience can look at and realize, like Pogue, that they are the sins of their ancestors and the hope for the future.

Emerson Collins, Tiago Santos, Pam Trotter and Mat Hayes

While the emphasis on poetic storytelling and prose may muddle the brilliance and intention of the story, The Red Suitcase leaves an indelible mark on the heart. Its entertaining and thought-provoking narrative, combined with moments of gritty truth, ensures that the impact of this P3 Theatre Company production lingers long after the final curtain call.

Also starring are Kristen McCullough as Pogue’s mother April and Bruce Melena as Bud.

Tiago Santos, Kristen McCullough, Bruce Melena, Pam Trotter & Mat Hayes

photos by Dlugolecki Photography

The Red Suitcase
P3 Theatre Company
Broadwater Theatre Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way in Hollywood
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on September 3, 2023
for tickets ($33 – $38), visit P3 Theatre

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