Words: Alex Grunberg
Apphia Campbell commands the stage with her emotional performance in this intimate show inspired by the life of Nina Simone. The weight of history is carried on one woman’s shoulders as Campbell plays the role of this musical icon in a story about the bewildering sorrow caused by the death of a loved one and looking to the past in order to move into the future.
Speaking in a monologue to Simone’s late father from her private mourning in a single room, Campbell takes us through snapshots across the timeline of the singer’s life, jumping from thwarted ambitions, to lost loves, to family regrets. While Campbell’s acting skills are wonderful to watch as she performs as both Simone and the characters in her past (a stand-out being Simone’s strong-willed, religious mother), the story is truly elevated during the musical moments.
The songs rise organically with the emotions, bringing her story to life with Campbell’s powerful and resonant voice. Highlights include the first time she is swept away by the freedom of music, a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, and a triumphant and joyful finale. And these beautiful moments are given even greater transformative power through the exceptional lighting and sound design that turns the single-room space into an ethereal, dreamlike setting.
This artistic look at an icon’s life is carried by Campbell’s grace and strength.
Black Is The Color Of My Voice
Pleasance at EICC, Pentland Theatre
15, 17-19 Aug