We all travel with baggage, lugging things along with us both physically and metaphorically. Ivan Cutting's promenade production teases out the conflicting emotions which underlie any journey and is based on interviews with members of East Anglia's diverse immigrant communities.
For the performances in Isaac's Bar on Ipswich's waterfront the audience is corralled into two rooms and a corridor on the top floor of this Tudor merchant's house. The herding is done by an air hostess; we need to identify our luggage at a touch-down before Stansted. The passengers include a young Portuguese couple.
Caterina is pregnant, eager to start her new life abroad and impatient with any delay. José is more conciliatory, but torn between leaving the fado music he loves and the certainties of the old life on one hand and the chance to prove himself as an individual on he other. Both react badly to the officious air hostess and the blandly authoritarian pilot.
Chara Jackson is a fine Caterina, full of feminine certainties yet easily rocked off-balance by the unexpected. You want to shake her and sooth her all at the same time. Beata Majaka is the air hostess poised between the half-remembered past and the uncertainties of present and future. Survivors tend not to take sides; they're too busy keeping afloat.
Captain John is the man in control of all our journeys – spiritual, factual, fictional. Adé Sapara plays him with immense authority, a good contrast with Pedro Reichert's fractured José, so concerned for his wife and nostalgic for a way of life he's not certain can be transported across the seas. Translation can lose as much as it gains.
And then there's Polish Malina Noeleen Comiskey. She materialises out of a crate, but she's not a stowaway. Her family's past is a closed book, one which she's not quite sure she wants to open. The chequered story of her country, endlessly fought over by more powerful nation states and ruthlessly parcelled out among them as part of peace deals, is something within living memory as well as past history.
At the beginning of the evening we, the audience, are separate individuals, going along with this game which other people are playing with us. That young couple at a near-by bar table – oh yes, they're obviously actors. Perhaps we ought to be paying attention to what they're saying. After all, most of us have paid to be here, as well as buying our own drinks.
An hour and a quarter later, we are both spectators and participants. We want to know what will happen. We block out the sounds of a busy pub crowded with people enjoying an evening out, are even irritated by them, Something much more important is going on.
Will Caterina and José's baby blend comfortably into her two cultures, thus overturning one of Captain John's predictions? Will Malina learn more of her own country's past and build a better future for herself on it? Will there be another flight through which the pilot and the air hostess can reveal themselves as well as their passengers?
That which makes an audience suspend belief for the duration of the action is the essence of stage drama. It has its own dimension, its own magic. And it lapped at the edge of the quay last night.