The Color Purple – At Home at Curve Theatre Online
In association with the Birmingham Hippodrome, Curve presents The Color Purple – At Home, a stripped-down, concert-like version of their 2019 showing of the Tony award-winning musical. Based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel of the same name, the production focuses on the power of storytelling, forgoing flashy sets and using instead actors’ bodies, a stunning cast with a deep understanding of the script, and a variety of cinematic shots to captivate its audience in an all-new viewing experience. The Color Purple – At Home proves to be not only an immaculate retelling of the original production but also one of the best intersections between live performance and cinema to date.
Walker’s story is not for the faint-of-heart, featuring abuse, tragedy and hardship, and this musical is a profoundly affecting and emotional, character-driven rollercoaster. Set in rural America during the 1930s, the narrative’s central character Celie (T’Shan Williams) is forced to marry the abusive Mister (Ako Mitchell) to save her sister (Danielle Fiamanya). Celie lives a hollow life, finding herself treated like a slave by her husband and continuously berated for her looks, until she falls in love with the glamorous singer Shug Avery (Carly Mercedes Dyer). As the characters experience a series of turbulent events, they learn self-acceptance, embrace their strength to persevere, and eventually come together to heal their collective wounds. Curve manages to capture all the depth and character journeys from the original novel in the space of two hours. Amid the clean writing and focused direction, forming an emotional connection and investment in Celie’s story is easy and leaves a lasting impression.
Though the script is compelling, what makes this production truly successful is the decision to focus on the performers: the set design is minimal, with only a revolving stage and a few chairs; instead of props or backdrops, audiences are drawn in through close-up shots of actors’ emotive faces, smooth transitions and the raw talent from the cast and music. Tinuke Craig proves her capability as a director well-versed in various mediums, as every camera angle complements the on-stage performance, expertly adding to the emotional delivery of the story without feeling clunky or cheap.
The Color Purple – At Home is emotionally devastating, even as viewers watch from behind their screens. From Williams’s flawless performance to the captivating music and strong direction, there is a lot of thought, love and hard work poured in, and it’s a joy to watch.
Photo: Pamela Raith
The Colour Purple – At Home is at Curve Theatre Online from 16th February until 7th March 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.