Apphia Campbell and Tinashe Warikandwa standing back to back looking out to the audience

Through The Mud Review

Image caption: Image by Stuart Armitt

Through The Mud Review

Updated show is exhilarating and feels fiercer than ever


Times change; and the best shows – including Through The. Mud – are those that know how to change with them. Apphia Campbell is a US-born and Glasgow Based singer actor and writer; and her show Woke first appeared on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 as a solo performance, charting through music – particularly through some of the greatest songs in the black Amercian canon – the political education of a young middle-class black American student called Ambrosia.

In autumn 2014, Ambrosia arrives at university in St Louis, Missouri just as the town of Ferguson is exploding in rage over the shooting of an unarmed young black teenager Michael Brown. Within weeks, most of her comfortable assumptions about American justice, democracy and quality have been shattered.

In that sense, the show’s story of a young woman coming alive to the reality of injustice and racism was perfectly summed up in Campbell’s original title Woke; the fact that it has now been changed in itself speaks volumes about the times in which we live.

Campbell’s new version of the play – produced by the Lyceum with Stellar Quines, and powerfully directed by Caitlin Skinner – seems both more urgently political, and less uniquely focussed on Ambrosia’s journey.

On stage with young Scots actor-singer Tinashe Warikandwa, who plays Ambrosia, Campbell plays the 1970s black panther activist Assata Shakur. Between them – and. Backed by video designer Ellie Thompson’s vivid archive scene images – the two women conjure up a fierce 70 minutes of music and protest, drawing frightening parallels between Ambrosia’s shocking encounters with the Ferguson police and justice system, and Assata’s 1970s conviction of a murder she did not commit.

It is difficult not to be energised and exhilarated by the storm of political and musical energy unleashed towards the end of this brave and remarkable show; which won standing ovations from audiences at the Lyceum over the weekend, and will surely soon return to the stage, in Scotland and beyond’.

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

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