A whole year into the pandemic, reruns of recordings of past productions are all very well and good but, after so many months, we were ready for something new so when Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome announced their joint production of The Color Purple at home, a concert performance of the show that had successfully ran at the theatre in summer 2019, I was 50 percent thrilled, 50 percent disappointed. Thrilled that work was being produced, disappointed that it wasn’t, as I thought, new.
My fears proved empty as we sat on our sofa to stream the musical interpretation of Alice Walker’s classic book and I found myself enjoying this concert performance more than I had the staged version I had seen before. Director Tinuke Craig’s Covid complaint production is lean and satisfying; the lack of set and simplicity of choreography allowing for actors to act without distraction. You see more. You hear more, you experience more and ultimately you feel more.
The darkness of Celie’s story feels more raw within this production just as her triumphs seem more joyful and with it her story becomes more powerful. Vocally the cast is impeccable, and T’Shan Williams’ return to the role of Celie keeps a tight hold of our hearts throughout. There’s humour a plenty from Karen Mavundukure and Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Sofia and Harpo as well as the ensemble church women who’s melodic gossiping joyfully connects the scenes.
The production is presented as a theatre show with a set start time along with ten-minute interval although you’ll have to provide your own ice creams! You are able to pause the show and we easily cast the action to our TV from our iPhone. It’s shot, in the main, simply with strategic cutaways to maintain the illusion of action with the constraints of social distancing. It works well although the floating faces of Celie and Shug during their duet took away from the scene and reminded us of an eighties power ballad music video. Not needed.
Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s The Color Purple at Home proves that entertaining theatre can be produced and enjoyed in the world that we now live in and it can be done without elaborate production, it actually sometimes benefits from the lack of it.
Tickets for the streaming of live production of The Color Purple at Home cost £20 per household and are available from https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-color-purple-at-home/ The production runs until the 16TH MARCH – DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND!
Tickets for this production were gifted to us to review but we chose to donate the value of them back to Curve to make sure local theatre has a future.
You can donate too here