The Color Purple – at home – Review

The Color Purple – at home: Leicester Curve (online stream)

17th February 2021


The WhatsOnStage Award-winning production of The Color Purple celebrates life, love and the strength to stand up for what you believe in and who are you. Set in racially divided Southern America during the first half of the 20th Century this online, digital version has been brought back to the stage by Curve at Home, in association with Birmingham Hippodrome. Specifically filmed at the Leicester Curve’s transformed auditorium, complete with costumes and lighting The Color Purple is more than your average online stream. A powerful script,outstanding cast and varied, soulful score makes The Color Purple a must see.

The cast give superb performances throughout this piece. T’Shan Williams is able to show Celie’s naivety and vulnerability through her journey to self acceptance, believe and love exceptionally. Vocally, T’Shan Williams puts her heart on her sleeve in every number and her voice works alongside Danielle Fiamanya and Carly Mercedes Dyer brilliantly. A true leading lady, she captures attention and draws the audience in with her performance and yet doesn’t detract attention from the rest of the cast. Carly Mercedes Dyer is excellent as the self confident, proud, sassy Shug Avery – the complete opposite to Celie. She holds herself with conviction and self belief. The emotion shown between Celie and Shug during song ‘What About Love?’ is honest and moving. Danielle Fiamanya stands out as Celie’s younger sister Nettie, and is able to add realistic emotion throughout both the highs and the lows of her story. The songs ‘Our Prayer‘ and ‘African Homeland‘ captivates their sisterly relationship completely. Again, Ako Mitchell is able to show the journey of his character, Mister, perfectly. From the wife-beating, bully to the moving final scene he fully embodies the character, his performance during ‘Celie’s Curse‘ is raw and touching. The casting for this show is brilliant. There are no weak links at all with stand out performances from every performer. Each performer fully commits to the show and character with the level of emotion shown in the finale proving this.

Director, Tinuke Craig has utilised the use of cameras well to create a piece of theatre specifically designed to be shown online via video streaming. Filming theatre performances comes with its own difficulties but Tinuke Craig and the other creatives of the show have used the cameras well to allow the audience to connect and empathise with the characters. However, there are moments when the cameras are visible which can break the magic of the story and some of the acting is aimed directly at the camera and you, the audience. For the most part this works and helps the audience to connect to the character whilst at others it feels unnatural.

The score by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, is a fusion of gospel, jazz, ragtime and blues. The lyrics are moving and emotional on their own, but when you add in the powerful story of self acceptance and belief The Color Purple truly takes the audience on a journey. The show tackles poverty, religion, sexism, violence and LGBT issues and does not shy away from these often tough subjects. But it is through its focus on Cecile, her journey and life, that this show truly comes alive and is able to touch audience members. The song ‘I’m Here‘ epitomises Celie’s journey and from it we can all take note, particularly during this hardest of times: ‘And I’m thankful for every day that I’m given, Both the easy and hard ones I’m livin’. Shows like The Color Purple prove that the Arts are alive, are viable and WILL return!

The Color Purple – at home is streaming for strictly three weeks until the 7th March 2021. For information and tickets click here. Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome are also offering 2,000 free tickets to NHS workers as a thank you for their continued hard work during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. To find out more about this please follow the link above. s

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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