A Younger Theatre : Nine Lives

If you’re a lover of plays, pies and pints, then it’s well worth popping along to the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s new aptly named ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ programme, which does exactly what it says in the title: it offers audiences the chance to see some new, work-in-progress theatre while enjoying a tasty pie and a refreshing pint of your favourite drink. Originally conceived by Oran Mor in Glasgow, and now in its second season at the Playhouse, I got the opportunity to see writer Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives, a monologue focusing on the life of asylum seekers in Britain today. And before I saw it, I did of course enjoy a pie and a pint.

Both the food and beverage part of the programme were pretty good, but they were nowhere near as good as Nine Lives. Nyoni’s monologue really brought the audience face-to-face with contemporary issues such as immigration and discrimination, following in the footsteps of the Playhouse’s earlier production of Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy. It follows the story of asylum seeker Ishmael, played by Lladel Bryant, who is dispersed by the Home Office to Leeds, where he meets a variety of characters who represent the differing attitudes towards immigration in the country today.

Nyoni’s writing is captivating, allowing Ishmael to convey to the audience powerful imagery of an unknown land, in this case Leeds, and the excitement of exploring it. She sets up a world that is honest and natural, where its inhabitants are those we meet on a day-to-day basis. Bryant brought the character of Ishmael to life with energy and enthusiasm, offering the audience a humorous yet painful look into what it’s like living a life standing in the shadow of fear and anxiety ....Read more at a Younger Theatre

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