Having the election - and a political change of gear - hanging in the air must have been ideal for writer Marco Ramirez. Although the play is framed as being about boxing, it is really about Barack Obama, and the ascent of the first black President to the White House. Now that Mr Trump is set for office, concerns about his policies throw fuel on the fire of this play's sadly transcendental themes of overcoming race.
Marco Ramirez's play is also about the fallout following a personal power struggle - about how changing the world can hamper family relationships, and alienate those unable to throw punches themselves. Jay Jackson (played with captivating ferocity by Nicholas Pinnock) struggles to draw a balance between inspirational leader, and sickly individualist in a quest for power.
Ramirez has a convincingly acerbic script, housing a succession of characters that struggle to make sense of Jay's master plan to be world number one. His sister and personal trainer are particularly effective in conveying the 'Other' in the room, questioning Jay's over simplifications and delusions of grandeur when he forgets what family values are, while staying in hotels designed solely for whites.
The play is book-ended by fight scenes, which - together with snippets of sparring action throughout - are simply stunning, and relieve some of the weight of a slightly overlong single act play. They are simply choreographed, and bathed in a radiant white wash. Jay spars, but skin is rarely touched. Instead, the fighting is conveyed in short sharp movements of dance, each with beautiful pertinence.
The play sides slightly too heavily on the side of success, rather than the race relations at the heart of the topic, but in-the-round at The Tabernacle, those gripping fight scenes at least will get inside your head.
|What||The Royale review, Tabernacle|
34-35 Powis Square, London, W11 2AY | MAP
|Nearest tube||Notting Hill Gate (underground)|
03 Nov 16 – 26 Nov 16, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£15 - £25|
|Website||Click here to book tickets|