With Nicola Adams’ recent boxing success at the London Olympics, this blistering play about women’s boxing couldn’t have come at a less pertinent time. As part of the Old Vic New Voices scheme, in which young emerging writers are given the chance to take their work to the fringe, writer/performer Charlotte Josephine’s play explores one feisty young woman’s fight in a male-dominated environment.
This year’s Olympics are the first to include women’s boxing and Chloe Jackson thinks it too much of a coincidence that it happens to be ‘just down the road’ from her boxing gym in Leytonstone. But when her father dies, she suddenly discovers ‘when you’re a fighter all your life, it’s hard to let someone take care of you.’
At the centre is Josephine, who produces a knockout performance of astonishing physicality – punching, skipping, and running around for near on an hour, breaking into sweat to the point you see it steaming off her skin. She plays a variety of roles from the feisty Chloe, her domineering father, her hard-knuckled trainer Len, all with a degree of sympathy and roughness.
However, Josephine’s script lacks the bite of her performance, primarily because there are few surprises in a story we’ve all heard before, but there’s enough energy in the show to make it well worth recommending.