It’s taken me a few days to put my thoughts together about this wonderful production and the best way to sum it up is to echo Oprah Winfrey, “It makes me so very proud to know that The Color Purple has finally arrived on stage in South Africa.” This local re-imagining is everything it promised to be. Tears, cheers and a whole lot of joyful noise.
It is not often that I am so affected by a performance that I did not care about the tears running down my cheeks. The cast delivers performances driven with presence and emotion. Every performer has a unique voice and tells a story you want to hear. From the tender Nettie (Sebe Leotlela) and feisty Sophia (Neo Motaung) to the charming Harpo (Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri) and brutish Mister (Aubrey Poo), Alice Walker’s tale of violence, rape and redemption is told in compelling fashion.
Set in rural Georgia, The Color Purple is a universal story. At its centre is young Celie. When Celie is forced by her abusive father to marry a cruel farmer, called ‘Mister,’ she is separated from all that she loves. After 40 years, Celie finds her strength and more importantly her voice.
Director Janice Honeyman brings this work to life with a clear and precise vision. It is near impossible to single out specific performances in a show that is this well cast, but it is Didintle Khunou (Celie) whose quiet strength carries the narrative and makes the audience rise to their feet as she powerfully proclaims, “I am HERE!”
The inventive use of the stage and beautiful orchestration by maestro Rowan Bakker, seamless choreography by Oscar Buthelezi and richly emotive scenic and lighting design by Sarah Roberts and Mannie Manim, create a rich tapestry that will take you on an emotional journey that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
The Color Purple is an absolute must-see and runs until 4 March at the Joburg Theatre.
Tickets available from www.joburgtheatre.com or 0861 670 670
Photos by enroCpics