What’s it about?
You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase is a modern fairy tale that follows Laurita, a young woman who recently arrived from Ecuador, as she lugs a magical suitcase around a place called Enchanted Jackson Heights.
What'd I experience?
As a child I really loved fairytales. When I was ten I wrote one of my own about a peasant boy named Ethan who turns into a prince after kissing a princess. My perceptions of love at that time were simple, systematic, and always romantic: 1) meet boy/girl, 2) fall in love (and/or kiss), 3) live happily ever after. As I got a little older, my love of innocent Disney fairytales was slowly replaced by a love of Hollywood romantic comedies which, while usually not very complex in nature, made it clear to me that love is not a clear linear process. Sometimes it’s more like: 1) meet someone nice on the internet, 2) fall in love over email, 3) get too scared to meet in person, 4) make other person wonder what’s wrong with them, 5) toughen up and finally profess your love to other person in your first real face-to-face meeting, and then 6) live happily ever after.
At this point in my adult life, my love for both fairytales and romantic comedies has been replaced by a measured cynicism of all things romantic. Long gone are the days of believing in and yearning for a Happily Ever After. When I read fairytales or watch romantic comedies now, it is only as the young version of myself who has not yet begun to think about love critically. I do this because it makes the experience of watching others chase love much, much more fun.
And so, for the hour and twenty minutes of You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase, I was young(er) again. Unlike most shows I have attended, I wasn’t the only child at this one – there were several children sprinkled throughout the audience. In hindsight, it was actually really refreshing to not be the youngest person in the theatre for once.
The show begins with an introduction to its hero and heroine, Joe and Laurita, as they are introduced to each other on a turbulent plane ride to New York. They share an instant attraction that makes me smile, because, jaded as I am, I have yet to board a plane without a faint hope that my soulmate will sit next to me. Laurita holds a book of fairytales and reads to Joe from it to soothe his fears of a plane crash. After landing in New York, the two get separated at the airport before exchanging contact information, but Laurita accidentally takes Joe’s suitcase instead of her own as she rushes off to catch a bus to meet her grandmother in Jackson Heights.
The two of them then search the city: Laurita searches for her grandmother’s house as Joe searches for Laurita. Along the way, Laurita, with a suitcase that magically empties and fills itself with beautiful fabrics, meets several people: an old lady who is probably a witch, an older woman whose child will turn back into a cellphone if she’s not careful, and a young woman whose soul is being held captive by a mean giant. Joe meets some of the same people and goes to the same places as Laurita, but never at the same time as her.
It can go without saying that after rigorous searching and many interesting encounters, Joe and Laurita finally encounter each other. Immediately, they sit down to a picnic in the park. As is the rule of fairytales, that's where the story ends. My immediate cynical reaction to this ending made me feel that it was too simple, too neat – I wanted to know more of the story, to know that Joe and Laurita have many more impromptu picnics and magical encounters.
But that is not what the story was and, in hindsight, I actually really like the ending for what it is: a successful end to a crazy search through a crazy city. Joe and Laurita could totally ghost each other after this initial picnic, but the pair already did what they originally set out to do and more by finding each other and returning each suitcase to its original owner. To satiate this yearning – one that even I don’t quite understand – to know what happens next? I may just have to try my hand at writing fairytales again. But until then, I am finding that I am content believing that this was not just an end, but the start of a happily ever after.