Black Is The Color Of My Voice - Adelaide Fringe Review

Black Is The Color Of My Voice - Adelaide Fringe Review


Posted 2024-03-11 by Jon Cocksfollow

Mon 11 Mar 2024 - Sun 17 Mar 2024

Featuring a number of Nina Simone’s most iconic songs performed live, Apphia Campbell's one-woman play Black is the Colour of My Voice employs simple but clever design and stagecraft, a well-crafted soundtrack and a tour de force performance by Campbell as Simone to follow the life of the successful African-American singer and civil rights activist, with an emphasis on her search for redemption after the untimely death of her father.

On entering the auditorium, the audience takes in the simple set: a single bed, flanked on one side by a chair and on the other by a desk, a set that remains unchanged as Campbell utilises her only other prop, the suitcase full of memories. The opening night audience had a buzz about it, a frisson of anticipation that raised the hairs on the back of the neck as the lights dimmed and the music began.

The set suggests a room in her mature years where Simone takes stock of her life. She relives her successes and failed relationships, shows us the rawness of her pain on being battered by her ex, and recalls her classical training and love for the work of eighteenth-century German composer and musician Johann Sebastian Bach. Most significantly, she craves a kind of other-worldly contact with her ‘daddy’, a theme throughout the show that highlights her pain at mature-age estrangement from him and shows rather than explicitly names her documented bipolar disorder.

Ingenious in its simplicity, Campbell as Nina Simone rifles through the suitcase to produce props that in turn reference a time, place or person in her journey. She finds her daddy’s jacket, an evening dress, her old hat and other memorabilia that provide focal points for her memories and narrative with the spirit of her beloved, but long-dead father. Campbell’s portrayal of Simone’s latter-day psychological issues blend seamlessly with her successes and her pain through her suitcase of memories.

Campbell delivers a virtuoso performance as Simone, through the full range of emotions and with diva-licious renditions of Simone classics like Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, My Baby Just Cares For Me, The Look of Love, a truly mesmerising I Put a Spell On You and a show-stopping, standing-ovation-inspiring %Feeling Good%%, which closes the show. The recorded musical accompaniment is polished and perfect, loud and in your face at times but never overwhelming. Campbell’s vocals alone are a worthy tribute to Nina Simone and you might be mistaken for feeling that the subject of the show herself might be summoned in spirit by the quality of what is on offer in her name.

Bravo, Apphia Campbell, writer, actor, singer: this show is next-level Fringe material.
The production of just six performances has returned after its Pick of the Week acclaim in last year’s Adelaide Fringe and plays nightly on the main stage at the Adelaide College of the Arts in Light Square from March 12 – 14 at 7pm, March 15-16 at 8 pm, with two performances – 3 pm and 7 pm on Sunday March 17.

Hurry to book. This one will sell out. It is one smoking hot show.

5 stars


280350 - 2024-03-11 12:42:43


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