Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone

credit: Andrew Ness

A celebration of Nina's music and uncompromising attitude

Josette Bushell-Mingo's Nina – A Story About Me and Nina Simone is far from a nostalgic biographical tribute act. Over the course of 80 minutes, she charts Simone's extraordinary career and relationship with the Civil Rights Movement, interweaving it with stories from her own life, drawing parallels between the two.

Olivier Award winning Bushell-Mingo is a force of nature. The anger bursts out of her as she howls a list of names of murdered black men and women – a list that was added to only days previously with the death of Rashan Charles. 'How did we get to the point where we have to say that Black Lives Matter?' she demands.

The show is an uncomfortable watch, but occasionally it suffers from a frustrating lack of structure, jumping around jaggedly between personal vignette and spoken-word rage. With the support of a superb three-piece band, she closes by belting some of Simone's best-known songs with explosive energy, garnering raucous applause from the audience who, by this point, are dancing in the aisles.

The exultant ending brings Nina full circle, echoing the etymological problem with revolution: it suggests that you end up right back where you started again.

Traverse, run ended.

Nina – A Story About Me and Nina Simone

  • 4 stars

Unity Theatre and Riksteatern (Sweden) in association with Young Vic Backed by a brilliant band, Olivier Award-nominated actress Josette Bushell-Mingo (Disney’s The Lion King) mixes story and song as she draws together tales from Nina Simone's life and her own extraordinary career. Touching upon the 1960s civil rights…