Nine Lives – review

Bridge Theatre
Review by: Christina McDougall
Published: Wednesday 28th October 2020, 11:22am
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Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos
Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos

Nine Lives by Zodwa Nyoni tells a story of a young Zimbabwean man who has had to leave his home country due to his sexuality. His story links to eight other characters who have impacted him during his journey to becoming accepted within society.

Nine Lives is the third solo performance at The Bridge which focuses on black writers, immigration, race and sexuality. I have been very fortunate to watch al three – Nine Lives was worth the wait.

Lladel’s acting transported me to multiple locations. He embodied every character fantastically and allowed me to believe each character was real. His accents were flawless, and his body language represented each character perfectly.

On a humble stage, with minimal props, actor Lladel Bryant (Ishmael) takes us on a journey of his new life in the UK.

Having to leave his home in Zimbabwe due to being gay, Ishmael arrives in Leeds to becomes an asylum seeker. Although he hopes his life will now be safe, he is constantly having to fight for his home, relationships, money and his safety – Often a battle that millions of asylum seekers have to face on a daily basis in the UK.



Figures show that thousands of asylum seekers in the UK who are currently being accommodated in hotels are facing removal within the UK. Many are living in detention centres, separated from their family and have no legal support regarding their future.

With recent news reports highlighting that thousands of asylum seekers are looking to sue the UK Home Office for the way they were treated in these detention centre, it makes you question why the government are treating humans in such a barbaric way. Many of these people who arrive in the UK have fled their country to save their lives. They have had to face inhumane conditions in their home county and the UK, which most of the UK will never have to witness or experience.

Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos
Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos

Ishmaels story left me with so many questions; Why are people still having to fight for their lives due to their sexuality or their race? Ishmaels monologues thoroughly explain the ordeals he has had to face whilst being in Leeds. We learn that the home offices need him to prove he is gay and that his fellow asylum seekers he has met refuse to befriend him when they find out that he is gay. Ishmael is isolated and left to fall into the gaps of society.

Throughout Ishmaels monologues, he embodies the lives of eight characters. From a teenaged single mother to a hard-working eastern European man. Each character has faced their own battles and have become invisible to society.

Although the stage was simple, Lladel’s acting transported me to multiple locations. He embodied every character fantastically and allowed me to believe each character was real. His accents were flawless, and his body language represented each character perfectly.

Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos
Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives. Photo Richard Lakos

Stories like Nine Lives give the voiceless a voice and reminds me of why theatre is so important.

Nine Lives was beautifully written and very poetic. It was honest and heart-warming. I was blown away by Lladel’s acting and although it was under an hour, I felt that it was enough time to fully immerse me into someone’s story.

It is important that we showcase these stories and allow people to understand the ordeal that millions of asylum seekers go through every day.  Stories like Nine Lives give the voiceless a voice and reminds me of why theatre is so important. I can see why this play has done so well and would encourage everyone to watch it whilst its out.

NEED TO KNOW: Nine Lives is at Bridge Theatre until 31 October 2020 | See listing to book tickets