Tag Archives: The Vaults

Black is the Color of my Voice
★★★★

The Vaults

Color of my Voice

Black is the Color of my Voice

The Vaults

Reviewed – 28th June 2019

★★★★

 

“Campbell has created something full of emotion, with engaging dialogue and beautifully executed vocals”

 

Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on 21st February 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. She was, and still is, widely regarded as one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th century. But what was life like for her? Apphia Campbell has written and also performs in Black is the Color of My Voice, a piece inspired by the life of celebrated performer, Nina Simone.

Campbell, as Simone, is alone in the performance space, delivering her lines to a photograph of her late father, who it is clear she has deep affections for. She very much involves and engages the audience, addressing lines to us, as well as the photograph. Throughout the piece, we are taken on a journey through Simone’s life, from her childhood discovering a love of playing the piano, to her romantic relationships, abuse endured and her commitment to the American Civil Rights Movement. Although the piece is set in one room, furnished with a bed, a desk and chairs, it’s easy to imagine the other various locations spoken about, as a result of the descriptive dialogue and enchanting storytelling.

The emotion and passion shown throughout is inspiring to say the least. You can’t help but be drawn in to each and every experience of the singer that is shared on stage. There are light moments, including amusing impressions of Simone’s mother when she learned of her daughter’s interest in jazz, “the devil’s music”. The darker moments, including a recollection of Simone’s abusive marriage, are heartbreaking and a great deal of empathy is created.

Lighting (Clancy Flynn) and sound (Tom Lishman) design during the section of the piece highlighting Simone’s horror over events surrounding the American Civil Rights Movement is hugely effective. Recordings of real news segments, the aftermath of horrific events and speeches are played, as well as lights flashing as she changes T.V channels. These elements, combined with Campbell’s acting abilities, ensure a highly dramatic and tense section of the piece.

You don’t necessarily need to be a fan of Nina Simone to be absorbed in this show. Apphia Campbell has created something full of emotion, with engaging dialogue and beautifully executed vocals in songs interwoven throughout. Direction by Arran Hawkins and Nate Jacobs has ensured the space is used well and the energy never falters. It’s clear why Campbell’s show has enjoyed worldwide success in recent years.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Geraint Lewis

 


Black is the Color of my Voice

The Vaults until 13th July

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Ares | ★★★★ | March 2019
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Bare: A Pop Opera
★★★

The Vaults

Bare: A Pop Opera

Bare: A Pop Opera

The Vaults

Reviewed – 26th June 2019

★★★

 

“the unevenness of the ride took away from the power of the piece as a whole”

 

The Vaults had quite a buzz on last night: the house was packed to the rafters, and there were a few celebrities and attendant paparazzi knocking about. Having only been there for the festival, it was fun to see the whole of the end bar area given over to a production, and the space was completely transformed by the addition of a raised traverse stage. The ramped-up atmosphere definitely spoke of this production as ‘an event’, so it was something of a surprise to discover (in very small print in the programme) that this was, in fact, a revival of a piece premiered in California in 2000.

The premise is a simple one: two boys in the graduating class of an American Catholic high school are in love. Their love is secret from their family and friends, and they also struggle with feelings of guilt within their faith. The graduating class are performing Romeo & Juliet, and this cauldron of adolescent love, guilt and desire finally brims over, with tragic consequences.

The UK is currently suffering an upsurge in anti-LGBTQ attacks, particularly in the face of legislation over inclusive sex education, and there is therefore no doubt that this is, unfortunately, a timely staging. Despite this, Bare does seem somewhat dated. The Romeo and Juliet forbidden love trope is well-used, and Stacy Francis’ role as the sassy Sister Chantelle – though splendidly sung – is now most certainly a cliché.

Though a fair amount of lyrics were lost in the ensemble pieces, as well as in some of the smaller cameo moments, the energy and commitment of the cast was undeniable throughout, and there were some stand-out performances. Darragh Cowley sang beautifully, and perfectly captured the conflict between Jason’s inner and outer selves; Georgie Lovatt was sensational as Nadia (this is her professional debut and we will most definitely be seeing her again) and Jo Napthine was electric in her big solo number in the second half.

The second half was much stronger than the first – both musically and dramatically. The two duets, See Me and Cross, packed a much-needed emotional punch after the rather bland pre-interval soundscape, and Lizzie Emery, as Ivy, finally got to show us her musical theatre chops in her terrific solo All Grown Up. It was just a pity that all the musical and dramatic heft came in the second half, because the unevenness of the ride took away from the power of the piece as a whole.

There were a couple of arresting set-pieces, in which Stuart Rogers’ choreography was perfectly complemented by the lighting (Andrew Ellis) and sound design (Ross Portway), but there was also a fair amount of unnecessary movement which was distracting and didn’t seem fully realised. As it stands, Bare is a pretty solid evening of musical theatre (opera doesn’t seem right) with an undeniably important message, but there’s a leaner, more devastating piece fighting to get out.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Tom Grace

 


Bare: A Pop Opera

The Vaults until 4th August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Anna X | ★★★★ | March 2019
Ares | ★★★★ | March 2019
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com