FeaturedMusicalNorth WestReview

The Color Purple – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Amy Housley

Book: Marsha Norman

Music and Lyrics: Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Wray

Director: Tinuke Craig

Revival Director: Lakesha Arie-Angelo

Based on the novel by Alice Walker and following the success of the film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985, The Color Purple first opened on Broadway in 2005 and now, the Tony award-winning show hits the road with its first-ever UK tour. With the history of the critically acclaimed book, film and Broadway run behind it, tonight’s show at the Lowry lives up to it’s award-winning history and then some.

Amidst the beautiful urban lights of the Salford Quays, The Color Purple is a stunning treat for the eyes, ears and the soul. Every member of the cast delivers an outstanding vocal and acting performance that leaves the audience reaching for their tissues and on their feet in applause.

This production explores many difficult themes such as abuse, racism, sexism, poverty and faith but never has this reviewer experienced such a joyful theatrical celebration of colour, gender and prayer like tonight.

Every aspect of this production expertly comes together towards the same creative vision. The set design by Alex Lowde presents the audience with a historically transient and simplistic wooden backdrop which transports us through many rooms and houses through clever shapes that appear from within the wooden frame.

The use of projection onto Lowde’s simple set creates a backdrop of different times and places which allows the focus to remain firmly on Celie’s journey (played by Me’sha Bryan). Joshua Pharo’s intelligent lighting and video design comprises a clever combination of realistic images mixed with dream-like lighting states, which beautifully allows the audience into the character’s own battle with their dreams and realities.

The acting from the cast is sensational, no weak link to be found. The real judges of that, is of course the audience. The audience was without a doubt, the most diverse group of people this reviewer has seen In a venue, one that represents every aspect of our society in terms of race, gender, age and ability. The inclusiveness of the production and of the audience creates such a safe space that the whole audience vocally react during pivotal moments of the show and they not only applaud at the end of the big musical numbers but also after mic drop-worthy lines from the characters on stage. This is just as much an event as the action on stage.

The most powerful moment is a dinner scene in the second act where we see Celie (Bryan) and Sofia (played by Analisa Lamola) find their strength and their voice to stand against years of abuse. The audience erupts in cathartic applause as they connect with a story set 70 years before their experience this evening.

This is not only a show made up of and made by a group of exceptionally talented artists and creatives but it’s also an important story of a black community with a powerful belief in faith and love. This timeless musical will be a relevant piece of theatre that will uphold its crucial message for years to come and is well worth the visit.

Runs until 15 October 2022

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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