Exposition is delivered by monologue, in which we discover the motivation for Stuart’s success.
Exposition is delivered by monologue, in which we discover the motivation for Stuart’s success. It is rooted, as you might guess, in his childhood and his no-love-lost relationship with his violent, alcoholic father. We also discover Teddy’s motivation to encourage his brother, following his own injury and substandard skill as a boxer, and their codependency from an early age. Tragedy in the ring leaves Stuart thinking about his relationship with his father, his own motivation, forgiveness and loyalty.
Stuart, played by Daniel Campbell, is a well-realised angry young man. The slick cynical boxing pundits are enjoyably represented, offering a glimpse of something other than conventional kitchen sink. James Garvock as Jack was pleasingly soulless and amoral, although his backstory was presented a little late in the play and seemed out of place. There are laughs at misunderstandings resulting from the differences between the brothers' thick Scottish dialect and the slick American language of sponsorship and punditry; at one point one of the characters suggests turning on the subtitle button. However, there is an over-reliance on this method as comedy relief, which becomes tedious.
The stage, set up as a boxing ring, is fairly simple and instils the idea that it is not only Stuart's career that is a fight, but his whole life. Actors remain onstage when not in scenes, changing characters simply by putting on a different jacket; they manage these transitions effectively. The characters are well-acted but the script plods along inevitably; I just couldn't bring myself to care about the outcome, perhaps because the pre-packaged motivations meant that nothing went beyond a standard archetype. The dialogue could have been recycled from almost anywhere (the bout “could be what defines him as a boxer, but... it could be what defines him as a man”) and this familiarity fostered not affection but rather the suspicion that this has all been done better before. As an exploration of masculinity or as a look at the boxing world, Lace Up’ s reheated clichés and knock-out-punch subtlety will leave audiences wanting something with more depth.