Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Burning Coal Theatre Company's NINE LIVES

This production is currently running in repertory with GIRLS AND BOYS through June 26th.

Review: Burning Coal Theatre Company's NINE LIVES

Nine Lives follows the journey of a young gay African man who is seeking asylum in the U.K. The young man, Ishmael, lives out of a suitcase. As he struggles to convince the government of his need for asylum, he comes to see the U.K. as a cold, aloof, and heartless place. Until he meets a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks. A single mother with a low-paying job, she represents for him a lifeline to the future. But how can their friendship ever be what each needs it to be?

This happens to be the second produced work from Zimbabwe born playwright Zodwa Nyoni. When Nine Lives premiered in 2016, the press said "This is a snapshot, but it's a truthful one and suggests that Nyoni, is a playwright well worth watching."

As for Burning Coal Theatre Company's production, under the director of Jordan Lictenheld, she keeps everything very suggested in her staging. With only a bench set center stage and one actor with a suitcase, it proves to be a great example of how sometimes, less is more. What exactly do I mean by that? While stage productions with a number of bells and whistles can be mesmerizing to behold, this is one instance where you don't always need those to keep the attention of everyone in the audience the whole time. The most you really need is a great performance from a great actor working from some great material with clear direction, and that should be plenty.

One-man plays can be very tricky to perform for any actor. You're the only cast member in the show, on stage the whole time, and have to do your best to deliver every single monologue in the script. It can take one brave performer to pull off all of those challenges. Luckily for actor Preston Campbell, he gives quite a compelling performance that lets him play with such a wide range of emotions as his character of Ishmael.

For a play that's only over an hour long with no intermission, Zodwa Nyoni was still able to craft such thought-provoking material that should definitely leave a lot for audiences to think about by the end. 30 tickets are available for each live performance. Though they are selling livestreaming tickets for each date's performance.


For more information, please visit:
https://burningcoal.org/second-stage-nine-lives/




From This Author - Jeffrey Kare

Jeffrey Kare currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jeffrey took interest in live theater at age 11. He also had the great pleasure of seeing shows... (read more about this author)


Review: Theatre Raleigh's YELLOW FACEReview: Theatre Raleigh's YELLOW FACE
July 1, 2022

What did our critic think? Yellow Face follows Asian-American playwright DHH. Fresh off his Tony Award win for M. Butterfly, he leads a protest against the casting of Jonathan Pryce as the Eurasian pimp in the original Broadway production of Miss Saigon, condemning the practice as 'yellowface.' His position soon comes back to haunt him when he mistakes a Caucasian actor, Marcus G. Dahlman, for mixed-race, and casts him as the lead Asian role of his own Broadway-bound comedy, Face Value. When DHH discovers the truth of Marcus' ethnicity, he tries to conceal his blunder to protect his reputation as an Asian-American role model by passing the actor off as a 'Siberian Jew.'

BWW Review: MY FAIR LADY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: MY FAIR LADY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
May 4, 2022

Based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady is set in London in the year 1912. Read what our critic has to say.

BWW Review: North Carolina Theatre's RING OF FIREBWW Review: North Carolina Theatre's RING OF FIRE
April 30, 2022

Ring of Fire is a musical presented as a concert by a group of five performers playing the songs of legendary country music artist Johnny Cash. The show, which was conceived by William Meade and created by Richard Maltby, Jr., opened on March 12th, 2006 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. Sadly, it only ran for 57 performances after closing on April 30th of that year. This production presented by North Carolina Theatre happens to be directed by Randy Redd, who was a member of the original Broadway cast.

BWW Review: RENT National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: RENT National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
January 29, 2022

Loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera, La bohème, Rent follows a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

BWW Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: AIN'T TOO PROUD National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
December 11, 2021

Ain't Too Proud follows the journey of The Temptations from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one.