Nine Lives review *** – truthful snapshot of an asylum seeker
Arcola theatre, London
The portrayal of a gay Zimbabwean awaiting the outcome of his application is affecting and direct in Zodwa Nyoni’s monologue
What does it feel like to be seeking sanctuary in the UK, and how are asylum seekers treated? Ishmael is a young gay man who flees Zimbabwe when his relationship with another man is discovered. Rejected by his former lover, who has already secured asylum and won’t speak up for him, Ishmael is sent to Leeds, where he awaits the outcome of his application, friendless and lonely in a damp flat with a broken bed, painfully eking out his £36 a week. The landlady won’t even shake his hand. “She owns everything in this flat, including my dignity,” he observes........