February 22, 2021 - 281 views

Review - The Color Purple - At Home with The Curve Leicester

Some courageous and creative light is emerging from the Curve in Leicester. This co-production with the Hippodrome in Birmingham comes hot on the coat tails of their exquisite production of Sunset Boulevard. The creativity maybe be bright but the 1982 book The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a broody and murky piece, which necessitates the curtains being drawn well back and some brighter beams cast down to allow a musical to evolve and grow. Marsha Norman, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray did a commendable job transferring it into a Broadway musical. The original production ran from 2005 to 2008, earning eleven Tony nominations. A film version of the musical is now in the making.

This production, which was originally seen in 2019 at The Curve, has been beautifully re-imagined for streaming, the result is all the more remarkable considering the limitations the current situation creates and the tight rehearsal schedule director Tinuke Craig was working under. It was understandably a fairly bare stage, with the auditorium visible as were the filming mechanics at times, but the focus was on the solo performers and the stories they carried. And rightly so. The songs are not always an easy or comfortable listen and needed that focus from performer and audience alike. Direction, music and movement were all in smooth unison, sharp, pointed and with a generous awareness of the home audience at the other side of the lens.

So, thank you Curve, and thank you to T’Shan Williams for a credible and persuasive portrayal of Celie and to Danielle Fiamanya for an understated but heartfelt Nettie, Celie’s sister.

The story and the actors put the songs in the shade at times, but the production’s hope and radiance never flickered.

It is streaming until the 7th March and can be accessed via the Curve Leicester website.

****   “Sharp, courageous, and beautifully re-imagined.”


David Robinson

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