Curve Leicester’s The Color Purple – at home sounds like a dream with an excellent cast but I’m not sure it truly benefits from being filmed
“She got them heebies and jeebies”
It is a bit of a shame that The Color Purple – at home, has to follow Curve Leicester’s exceptionally good production of Sunset Boulevard as they reimagine their planned autumn/winter season in concert form. For where the already cinematic Sunset blossomed in the marriage of theatre and film, The Color Purple doesn’t reap anywhere near the same level of benefit from this treatment.
Part of the problem lies in the essential nature of the shows. Sunset is full of distance and estrangement which is perfect with there’s a 2m social distancing rules in place but The Color Purple is about intimacy and connection at its heart, and that is sadly – but necessarily – missing here.
It is no comment on the performances, which are strong throughout Tinuke Craig’s company. T’Shan Williams’ Celie is a stunning lead, Carly Mercedes Dyer’s Shug is a dynamic partner, and there’s reliably excellent work from the likes of Daneille Fiamanya, Ako Mitchell and Landi Oshinowo. Alex Parker’s musical directions keeps things sounding great too.
But with a setting stripped back to a bare revolve, something doesn’t quite click in the way the show is presented. It is ostensibly aiming for more than just a concert version but ultimately doesn’t actually offer that much more besides. Given the considered way in which different filming techniques were incorporated into Sunset, little of that learning seems to have been passed on. Comic shenanigans don’t work at a distance and a running time well in excess of two hours sorely tests the limits of this format.