The Color Purple: Best Fake Baby Ever

I’m trying to get as much theatre-going in as possible before the semester starts. Yesterday was a two-show day, with a matinee of The Color Purple and an evening performance of Fiddler on the Roof.

On stage pregnancies and infants are a dicey proposition. Get it wrong, and the audience is taken out of the action as they start to focus on the how of the scene instead of the what. Verisimilitude is a tall order and sometimes not theatrically effective.

(Spoiler alert!) When Cynthia Erivo’s petite and overwhelmed Celie “gave birth” on stage, it was a transfixing and transformative theatrical moment. Ribbons of white satin fabric came unspooling from her belly, and as Erivo handled the cloth until it became a baby bundle, it conveyed more about the character and dramatic action than any verisimilitudinous newborn prop could have possibly achieved.



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