****Shadow Boxing – Young Critics Review

Broken Souls: Shadow Boxing****
Directed by James Ashton
Written by James Gaddas
Performed by Alex Harries

Short, Sharp and Packs a Punch

Broken Souls' debut production, Shadow Boxing is a play with a heart that takes a look at male sexuality in a testosterone fuelled world. Flynn, an amateur boxer who’s desperate to go pro gives his life to his sport; not your average twenty something, he shirks drinking and sex to focus – on training, on winning…on being the fighter his father never was.

Set in The Phoenix Amateur Boxing Club in Llanrumney; a small, dark gym dominated by a boxing ring and scattered with heavy duty punch bags, Shadow Boxing gives us an earthy, gritty taster of the boxer’s environment, while the story that unfolds gives us an insight into the troubled mind of a man whose sport has consumed him and given him an escape from a truth he doesn’t feel comfortable facing.

Having been an amateur boxer, Alex Harries is no stranger to the training or the environment of the character. He taps into the gentleness beneath the fists, tapping into the mindset of the internally conflicted boxer and developing Flynn’s character from the stereotypical hard-nut to the complex, sexually veiled guy he really is.

The site specific element of Ashton's exciting production is what really makes it original; you can smell the hard work and sweat that goes into training, and this is reflected in the play with Harries ‘working out’ throughout the performance, throwing out combinations of punches on the bags, dropping for press ups, sit ups and skipping faster and some intense and seriously impressive skipping. The choreography of this is fluid and, with the simple but effective lighting, creates stark images and moments that stick in the mind throughout the bus ride home.

This is essentially a story about coming out, but the setting, the choreography and the masculinity of the sport make it a refreshing piece of theatre that I’d go back to see again.

Shadow Boxing is on until Saturday 27th September, leaving from Chapter Arts Centre at 7:30pm. For more information or to book tickets head to www.chapter.org/broken-souls-shadowboxing

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