Review by: Paul Towers, 6/11/15
Nine Lives by Zodwa Nyoni
Leeds Studio & West Yorkshire Playhouse
Upstairs @ The Western, 6th November 2015
“thought provoking and topical”
Tonight’s performance of Nine Lives was prefaced with a selection of songs by The Red Leicester Choir. Last time I saw this a cappelia group of community singers they gave us a fascinating selection of almost forgotten political protest songs. This time, well it appeared that the set had been thrown together to provide some appropriate accompaniment to the main feature. Unfortunately, while the first and last numbers were up to their past standard the intervening two numbers were ill prepared, unrehearsed, erratic and uneven. Very disappointing.
After a very short break while the stage was cleared of the choir we sat back and watched with appreciation the story of Ishmail, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker fleeing the notoriously homophobic regime of his home country.
Played by Lladel Bryant this is a story of how a young man is isolated from society by his refugee status and isolated from his fellow migrants by his sexuality.
While the narrative of the piece smoothly follows Ishmail’s bewildered arrival in what he perceives to be a land of freedom through his struggles to be granted asylum and his blossoming new friendship with single mother Becks it is interrupted several times by incongruous political mantra chanting. Which is a shame because the writing is plenty strong enough without it.
Bryant shines throughout the piece, especially when the script allows him to conjure up other characters like Becks and his room mate.
This thought provoking and eminently topical tale is sponsored by, amongst others, Leicester’s City of Sanctuary, an organisation that supports refugees and especially LBGT asylum seekers.
Nine Lives continues to tour well into the new year. Full details on the Leeds Studio Facebook page
and Pub Theatre Blog
(c) Paul Towers 2015