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BWW Review: Burning Coal Theatre Company's NINE LIVES


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

BWW 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.

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