Thursday 16 June 2016

Soul- A new play by Roy Williams: A Review

Written by award winning playwright Roy Williams, Soul, tells the story of Marvin Gaye's rise to fame, and his subsequent decline.

The play itself focuses little on Gaye's music, in favour of exploring his personal relationships, most notably his mother, and his father.
With two of Gaye's real life sisters both acting and narrating throughout the play it does at times feel a little eerie.
That said, it's a nice touch of authenticity to have them both involved.

There are some stand out performances, both in Keenan Munn-Francis ( as the young Marvin and Leo Wringer as Marvin Gaye snr, yet in truth the entire cast were fantastic, with the choir also performing well, in the absence of Gaye songs.

Perhaps I was distracted by the constant eating by the couple beside me ( clearly very hungry), I'm not entirely sure, but something... was slightly missing.
There are some key insights, which definitely help you to piece together, if not understand what happened a little more, but there was something of the familiar about it, and that's the feeling I had throughout, even though I did learn a lot more about Marvin.

It's not unusual to hear of stars dysfunctional or difficult family dynamics, and this is hinted at very early on and continues throughout, although it's unclear whether Gaye's relationship with his mother ever truly became incetuous
His fathers indiscretions, womanizing, and cross dressing were all news to me... and at times humorous, other times upsetting. Yes, Marvin Gaye Snr did appear to be a bit of a tortured soul in many ways.. striving, but never quite cutting in ( in his own eyes).

I had hoped for more laughs, and definitely more music, but overall.. it's a very well crafted play, written by a very accomplished playwright.. make no mistake about that.
What I also found impressive was the set design, and the transition to and between scenes. Beautiful lighting and good use of real live footage of the times..

Marvin's music played during the interval, but the right songs in the play at the right moment , would have made it so much more outstanding.
This track for example.. was a joy to hear on the night

Mission accomplished Roy Williams - a great and thoughtful play.

Incidentally, the words What's going on do appear in the play... but not how or where you may expect...
Nicely done

Soul is showing at the Hackney Empire Theatre
Mare Street, London E8; from the 15th June 2016 - 3rd July 2016

Have a great day x


  1. That sounds good, but I'm sure it would be better with strategic use of Gaye's songs. Perhaps the producers couldn't get the rights to use the music.


    1. Yes, true, that's definitely a possibility Janie :)