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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)

MEMBERS SAY:

Relevant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Great singing
78
Avg Score

65
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.

69
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

90
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if If you want to see a very honest, well produced, with great music show. And as usual Steve Earle's music was amazing and soulful.

Don't see it if If you don't like reality and how people are treated so badly. Companies choose profits over humanity.

During previews
69
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
66
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
91
Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant

See it if You like docu-dramas. This real life event, told with exquisite story and song is emotional and informative, entertaining and moving.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a big splashy musical or a show with a traditional story arc. This is done with very little set, just good story telling.

Also I found this incredibly moving. I grew up in West Virginia and lost on... Read more Read less

During previews
81
Relevant, Absorbing, Great singing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a fan of Steve Earle, enjoy oral histories of real events, interested in issues facing coal miners & families and workers vs. owners

Don't see it if don't like topical musicals, identify more with mgmt than workers, expect a happy, song & dance musical not one about real tragic events

During previews
79
Good take on a difficult story and very good music to add to the feel.

See it if You like true stories told well with music.

Don't see it if You want traditional musical theatre

During previews
79
Slow, Riveting, Relevant, Powerful, Heart-wrenching

See it if True tale of a West Virginia mining disaster told by the ones left behind. Raw emotion. Great music by Steve Earle! Very sad story.

Don't see it if If you don't like country music. If taken-from-life political theater is not your thing. If you're looking for fun and games.

During previews
75
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in hearing first person accounts from people who lost a loved one in the West Virginia coal mining explosion in 2010.

Don't see it if You have trouble dealing with the sadness and loss.

Also Beautiful music by Steve Earle. The casting was excellent.

During previews
88
Resonant, Profound, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Bare set with Steve Earle playing music he composed--Alongside actors w transcripted narratives re: coal mine explosion in West Virginia.

Don't see it if Poignant and heartbreaking true accounts of an actual explosion in a coal mine-- beautifully woven story integrating many of the individuals

Also Painful, and heartfelt, these narratives are flawlessly performed and ... Read more Read less

During previews
22
Dramatically inert, Tedious, Bad acting, Manipulative, Emotional torture porn

See it if You want to hear random people tell overlapping accounts of losing loved ones in a mining accident.

Don't see it if You are looking for any kind of interesting narrative flow. Or music that adds to the story.

Also This is another stinker from The Public. It seems like everything is d... Read more Read less

During previews
90
Well-written, Well-acted, Resonant, Relevant, Profound

See it if you want to see a beautifully told true story with powerful acting about a mine explosion and the impact on those left behind.

Don't see it if you want a lighthearted show and/or one where characters interact. This is a tragedy told by characters telling their story to the audience.

During previews
80
Absorbing, Relevant, Intense, Great music, Ambitious

See it if You are interested in Americana, Country Music, or true stories in the theater

Don't see it if You only go to comedies

During previews
92
Thought-provoking

See it if you want to understand coal miners and their lives. See it if you like documentaries based on actual interviews with the people involved.

Don't see it if you have no feelings for others or are not interested in the story of the death of 29 West Virginians and corporate greed.

Also Many in the audience were in tears by the end of the play. The accompa... Read more Read less

During previews
83
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you want to know what it felt like to live through a mining disaster and subsequent trials and you love good music and writing.

Don't see it if you are looking for a fun lively musical .

During previews
81
Resonant, Relevant, Great staging, Great singing

See it if You care about human beings and want to see some real sorrow other than mid class’ moaning

Don't see it if You don’t want to face the real problem that still exists on this society

Also The music is good

During previews
80
Moving, Entertaining, Engrossing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Documentary of mining disaster brought to life using the real words of survivors teamed with Earle's wonderful score. Unique in approach.

Don't see it if Happy what you're after. This is honest. Steps to disaster visible, yet no one can stop it. Want to think of corporations as benevolent.

Also If you're "enlightened" enough to think climate change/global warming/... Read more Read less

During previews
85
Great staging, Resonant, Relevant

See it if you enjoy real life character driven stories that touch the heart and bring the human face to a terrible tragedy without justice received.

Don't see it if you more elaborate and plot driven versus character driven dramas.

During previews
82
Profound, Intelligent, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you like documentary Theater. And also if you like Steve Earle.

Don't see it if you are looking for a flashy set or if you don’t like country music.

During previews
86
Relevant, Great writing, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting

See it if A riveting and heartbreaking story of people who lost family in the coal mine disaster in west va. Felt like the real people and culture

Don't see it if Youre looking for something light and not upsetting.

During previews
81
Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if verbatim theatre from THE EXONERATED team. heartfelt work on disaster and corruption in WVA mining country, with haunting Steve Earle music

Don't see it if if verbatim theatre, monologue-driven, is not your cuppa tea, this may not be for you

During previews
95
Thought-provoking, Great music, Great writing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you are interested or outraged at the treatment of miners (and other workers) by their bosses who only care about the bottom line

Don't see it if you would side with the bosses who cavalierly cause the death of 29 workers

Also Perhaps I am prejudiced, as I have spent my adult life in the labor mo... Read more Read less

During previews
96
Relevant, Resonant, Must see, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Great acting and the music is so powerful. Real stories with an impact and meaning. Very moving.

Don't see it if A traditional musical.

During previews
93
Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you care about US labor history and the treatment of coal miners. you like a skillful interweaving of edited interviews and music

Don't see it if you want a happy ending. you want "two sides" of the story.

Also It is refreshing to hear the voices of working class Americans (partic... 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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