16 Feb – 7 Mar 2021
One of the many reasons to hate lockdown is the fact that theatres are closed. In 'normal' times I'm usually to be found heading for central London at least once a month for a theatre trip. Several theatre companies have been streaming past productions, but they don't always translate well to home viewing. That hasn't been the case for Curve, who had a great success with Sunset Boulevard. They now have another treat in store for us with the streaming of The Color Purple from 16th Feb through to 7th March.
This is a re-imagined reprisal of the 2019 production at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The Cast of The Color Purple
The Color Purple – at Home is led by the vulnerable, enduring, yet strong T’Shan Williams as Celie, with a warm and loving Danielle Fiamanya as Nettie, Karen Mavundukure as fiesty Sofia, Ako Mitchell plays Mister and managed to make us hate him, pity him and finally accept him, Simon Anthony Rhoden is the joyful Harpo. Also returning to Curve is Carly Mercedes Dyer, Carly joins the cast as Shug Avery - the charismatic woman loved by both Mister and Celie.
Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the musical is directed by Tinuke Craig, alongside Musical Director Alex Parker.
We settled on the sofa with a decent glass of wine and a craft beer respectively (saving ourselves about £20 on theatreland prices for each round) and watched the show. It's worth making sure that you log in a decent amount of time before 'curtains up' in case there are any technical issues with your smart TV etc.
It's worth noting that whilst you can pause the show, it will resume from the current point, not from the point that you start it again. So make sure that you have everything you need before it starts at 7.30 p.m.
From the outset, the show was energetic, with the performers engaging with the audience via the cameras. The darker themes within the musical; incest, teen pregnancies, wife-beating, infidelity, and racism were sensitively dealt with, but not glossed over.
The actors sang, danced, gave us sadness, but also lots of humour. The 3 gossiping ladies provided a lot of light relief as well as helping to narrate the story.
In the same way that you'd experience for 'real' theatre, there is a 10 minute interval. Time for a comfort break and a top up or a cuppa. With the advantage of not having the long queues for the ladies or the bar which are very typical of the West End theatre experience.
I actually loved the credits, when we got to see the cast, the orchestra, the film crew, the producers, choreographers, and all the production staff.
One of the few advantages of lockdown is this type of initiative. Many fabulous plays and musicals start their lives in other towns and cities and then transfer to London; this way we get to see them earlier than would otherwise have been the case.
Who it's for, and it's suitability for children
I would say that it's for everyone missing live performances. Whilst you do occasionally see a member of the camera crew, it doesn't detract in any way from the experience. Another advantage is not having a tall person or someone with big hair sitting in front of you (as happened to me once, when I found that I was sitting behind Brian May from Queen at the theatre - but that's another story).
The themes are, without doubt, adult. I think that I'd say it'd be fine for teens over 14, depending on their maturity. There are links to education resources, and there would certainly be a lot of learning points to draw from the musical.
Supporting Local NHS staff in Leicester and Birmingham
Even lovelier is the fact that The Color Purple – at Home is supported by Leicester-based music licensing company PPL PRS and De Montfort University. This sponsorship has enabled Curve to offer free tickets to specific local community groups and young people. Birmingham Hippodrome is able to offer tickets to similar groups in Birmingham through the support they received through the Culture Recovery Fund.
As part of the run of streamed performances, Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome will offer 2,000 free tickets for NHS workers to enjoy the production at home, with tickets distributed through local NHS providers. As an NHS employee myself, this makes me very happy, a fabulous contribution to the well-being of our staff.
Where to get Tickets and how to book
Tickets for The Color Purple – at Home are available to book now and are priced at £20 per household. The streamed production will be available to audiences in the UK and Ireland only and Curve will offer a range of accessible performances throughout the run, including captioned and audio described.
To find out more or to book tickets to The Color Purple – at Home, visit www.curveonline.co.uk
Disclaimer: We attended Press Night as guests of Curve. All opinions are our own