The Scotsman | Nine Lives ****

[........] And as if to confirm the huge current strength of writing and acting in England, this week’s Play, Pie And Pint show, co-produced with West Yorkshire Playhouse, also features a blazing new drama about people on the margins of a failing society. Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives tells the story of Ishmael, a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker who has fled to Britain because he is gay, one of millions of victims of the new wave of extreme homophobia sweeping some African countries.

In a fine 50-minute monologue, delivered with huge skill and feeling by Lladel Bryant, we watch Ishmael struggle with Britain’s intrusive and hostile immigration system, catch a brief glimpse of sexual freedom, and form a fragile but hopeful friendship with a young single mum he meets in the park. Nyoni’s interweaving of naturalism and poetry is superb, and lifts this show far beyond documentary, into unforgettable solo drama about one of the key experiences of our time. Read more

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