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Coal Country

From 56 member  reviews
Members say: Relevant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great singing

About the show

From the creators of "The Exonerated" comes this new work based first-person accounts by survivors of the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion and their family members.

From the show:

In 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 men, and tore a hole in the lives of countless others.

In this riveting, emotionally stunning new work based on first-person accounts by survivors and family members, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, award-winning writers of The Exonerated, and three-time Grammy Award-winning country/folk legend Steve Earle, dig deep into the lives and loss of the most deadly mining disaster in recent U.S. history.

Jessica Blank directs this haunting world premiere that gives voice to those yet unheard, and shines a piercing light on the deadly forces of greed and the enduring power of love.

Member Reviews (56)


Relevant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great singing

Slow, Great singing, Disappointing

See it if You really love the music of Steve Earle. It's the best part of this show.

Don't see it if You're looking for a play that engages the audience through an interesting narrative. What they say here is important. The style is boring.

Also I was so disappointed in this show. I find the presentational style of... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if Important story about low income working community suffering from illegal corporate action

Don't see it if You want a standard narrative play

Simple, Underbaked, Disappointing

See it if you love Steve Earle, the Public, West Virginia, real-life stories. The ensemble does solid work, and everything here feels true.

Don't see it if Why is this onstage? And why now? Similar stories have been told. I dig a simple show, but the simplicity here feels underdone.

Slow, Relevant, Overrated, Great singing, Disappointing

See it if You want to learn more about the coal mining disaster of 2010, and if you want to support the voices of underrepresented union workers.

Don't see it if You are looking for an uplifting evening, if you are looking for dazzling scenery or any sort of spectacle within the staging.

Banal, Slow, Relevant

See it if You like a show with a story to tell, presented with some blue grass songs

Don't see it if you are looking for something 'extra' about a story you already know

During previews
Misguided, Why the music?!?, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if The main theme of the mine explosions is relevant and timely. Solid performances.

Don't see it if The use of music was painful. It completely took away and outrage and drama that the actors started to build and turned it into sugar water.

Also The choice is first-person accounts without actors interactions is alw... Read more Read less

During previews
Slow, Great acting, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if Really great acting from the entire cast and an interesting & relevant story.

Don't see it if If you dislike monologue heavy shows. I didn't care for the format, The characters don't interact much with each other, mostly monologues.

During previews
Banal, Cliched, Insipid, Disappointing, Great acting

See it if You know nothing about the mining disaster that the show is about or if you want a small Steve Earle concert (he plays live the whole show).

Don't see it if You've seen virtually any play or film about the lives of coal miners. It's just so bland and generic a show.

Also The play is exactly what you think it will be: stories told by individ... Read more Read less

March 3rd, 2020
CRITIC’S PICK. "Songs and Stories in a Disaster’s Aftermath: Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s show at the Public Theater, with live music by Steve Earle, is based on a real-life West Virginia mining tragedy."
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March 3rd, 2020
4/5 Stars "A devastating documentary play...Blank and Jensen...compassionately channel true accounts of survival without editorializing, so nothing gets in the way of our empathy...The performances are gorgeously authentic and underplayed."
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March 3rd, 2020
"Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen give voice to the friends and families of miners killed in a 2010 West Virginia explosion in this haunting drama with original music written and performed by Steve Earle."
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March 3rd, 2020
"Coal Country Takes Us to West Virginia Where We're Far Past Canaries: Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen chronicle the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion at the Public Theater, with original songs by Steve Earle."
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Cast & Creatives (4)