This returning Fringe hit begins with an anecdote about a young woman called Chloe locking herself out of her house. It’s disastrous: she’s already late. However, she deals with the situation how none of us would or could. Chloe proceeds to climb over four fences and break in through the back, avoiding both dog and faeces. She succeeds, feeling like an ‘accomplished woman’. Although, this is not all that’s impressive about Chloe. Chloe is preparing to be the first female boxer to fight for England in the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately this preparation coincides with two life-changing events: the death of her father and the first tugs of romantic love. The play explores when it is best to fight and when it is best to sit tight, look after yourself, and talk it out.
Chloe doesn’t like sitting around and talking about feelings. ‘I’m from Leytonstone, we get up and do something about it’, she says. Chloe doesn’t cry at her father’s funeral. She makes jokes about the money being wasted on funeral flowers. She can’t even tell her boyfriend Jamie that she loves him when he asks. It is only in Clare Josephine’s phenomenal acting and the boxing training sequences that the intensity of Chloe’s rage is fully exhibited.
Charlotte Josephine, writer and star of Bitch Boxer, is nothing short of impressive and her energy nothing short of inexhaustible. The character is consistent and believable, without a gesture or phrase out of place. This is a sharp character dissection of a tough cookie with a sense of humour. Josephine also played the many of the other characters with ease, including Chloe’s gum-chewing trainer Len, boyfriend Jamie, drunk friend Katie and her mother. Josephine’s performance and the piece itself manage to mix comedy with pathos in equal measure.
Music was used well to this end. The club number, as well as the bedroom rendition of Eminem’s Lose Yourself, were personal favourites. The battle scene music towards the grand finale was perhaps ill-judged and melodramatic but did not detract too much from Josephine’s gripping monologue. It was also a lovely touch that Jamie’s coloured love notes were found throughout the performance in Chloe’s sock, bag and chair.
This show has returned to the Fringe for a reason. It combines a hard-hitting script with a knockout performance to deliver the punch.