Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh
Guest reviewer: Suzanne O’Brien
Apphia Campbell triumphs in Black is the Color of My Voice at Gilded Balloon Teviot. A riveting show inspired by the life and music of Nina Simone and featuring songs such as ‘I Put a Spell On You’ and ‘Feeling Good’.
Written by and starring Campbell, she portrays the fictional character of Mena Bordeaux, who is inspired by singer songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
For the entire piece Mena is shut in a room speaking to a picture of her late father. She reminisces on her life and the inspirations that led her to become arguably one of the greatest singers of all time.
A suitcase holds items which represent certain times in her life – a headband from when she was a little girl, letters from an old boyfriend and dresses which she wore to perform. As she takes them out, they are a stimuli to explain the past as she shares with her father the things she hadn’t been able to tell him before.
Campbell gives a stunning and soulful performance with a roof-raising voice that is silky smooth. She doesn’t fail to do the songs justice, but what is particularly beautiful is that she doesn’t force anything – it is all very natural.
The piece reminds of the true essence of some of Simone’s most famous songs. What inspired them shines through as they are incorporated into various pivotal points in the piece, such as the death of Martin Luther King Jr and a church bombing.
Before she wrote songs inspired by the civil rights movement Simone was taught to ignore the racial abuse and injustices, but after so many horrifying events she feels she has no choice but to use her voice. And she does just that with songs such as Mississippi Goddam. Campbell successfully shows the fire growing within her as the civil rights movement goes on and as she realises the impact and importance of her songs.
Campbell’s portrayal is bold, powerful and strong. She creates a women who knows what she believes in and isn’t afraid of the consequences that may come as a result.
The life of Mena Bordeaux – inspired by Nina Simone’s – is presented in a way that is completely engaging. This piece is captivating, thrilling and spellbinding.
Running time: One hour (no interval)
Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wine Bar, Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ (Venue 14)
Monday 12 – Monday 26 August 2019
Mon 12, Thurs 15, Sat 17, Mon 19, Thurs 22, Sat 24, Mon26: 4pm
(Playing in rotation with Woke)
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/black-is-the-color-of-my-voice