Black is the Color of my Voice

As simple staging – a bed, a table and a chair set the scene for the story of a time, a place and a cause as seen through the eyes of a woman, a daughter and an icon.

Black is the Color of my Voice sees an interpretation of Nina Simone named Mena Bordeaux (Apphia Campbell – who also wrote the play) looking back on her life as she comes to terms with the death of her father.

This one woman show imagines Bordeaux/Simone in conversation with her late father (a photo of him in a frame one of the few adornments to the set) both grieving him whilst also aspiring to meet again.

Using memories and mementos pulled from a suitcase at the foot of the bed, she looks back from her ambitious youth dreaming of being the world’s first black concert pianist, through her discovery of ‘the devil’s music’ and her life at the heart of the Civil Rights movement of the early Sixties.

No show about Nina Simone would be complete without her music and Apphia’s voice is remarkable – in particular during the songs where she sings a capella – her voice effortlessly filling the theatre, the audience entranced.

The staging is effective and Apphia’s presence mesmerising. If I were to find criticism, at times during the 75 minutes of the play the pacing dropped a little – on a couple of occasions there seemed to be perhaps too long between songs and at others 2 or 3 numbers in relatively quick succession, likewise some of the darker moments of her life – an abusive relationship and the racism that stirred the Civil Rights movement could have been developed a little more to give more depth and gravitas.

All said, the play is very well deserving of it’s revival and forthcoming tour – for those familiar with the life and work of Nina Simone it presents a fitting and powerful tribute whilst for those new to her it will be a revelation – not least in the supremely talented hands of Apphia Campbell!

This show was reviewed on the 11th June 2024 at Stratford East Theatre where it runs until the 15th June 2024.  Tickets available here: Black is the Color of My Voice (

Review written by Mike Stocks


Photo credit: Rod Penn

Check out other reviews from Curtain Call Reviews and get in touch to have our reviewers head to your show.

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.