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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
Avg Score

During previews
Intelligent, Intense, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in a theatrical docudrama of a preventable coal mining explosion, based on first person accounts of families and survivors

Don't see it if you are triggered by harrowing performances focusing on the power of unions, the explosion and the aftermath of grief and politics.

Also The country music along with the intimacy of the Public Theater enhanc... Read more Read less

During previews
Edutainment, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing, Great acting

See it if You enjoy documentary and love Steve Earle. I knew he wrote the music, didn't know I'd practically be sitting on his lap!

Don't see it if you're not up for a downer (like country music story-telling kind of downer). You're the owner of a non-union mine.

During previews
Bad direction, Cliche, Disappointing, Banal, Boring

See it if You enjoy unnecessary bench choreography

Don't see it if You hate bad theatre that relies on the subject matter to get applause.

During previews
Riveting, Relevant, Must see, Absorbing

See it if an incredible story about a mining accident told in a style reminiscent of Come from Away

Don't see it if Do not want to hear about a real life tragedy

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

During previews
Safe, chronological, documentary, personal, acceptable

See it if you like long-form podcasts about true events with a personal touch - and - with good music accompaniment.

Don't see it if you're looking for something you didn't know or any surprising twists. There are the usual good guys and heinous villains. No surprise.

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)