Bitch Boxer

Theatre, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
Bitch Boxer
(c) Alex Brenner 'Bitch Boxer'

You may get a ringside view in Charlotte Josephine’s play, but don’t expect the whizz-bang of Broadway’s new ‘Rocky the Musical’. Though both stories are about overcoming adversity and boxing, ‘Bitch Boxer’ is as stripped back as it could be. And this time it’s a woman that’s whooping ass.

Set in the lead-up to London 2012 – where female boxers were allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time – the piece was originally staged pre-Games and performed brilliantly by Josephine herself. Now, the hour-long monologue returns post-furore with the ganglier Holly Augustine in the role of 21-year-old Chloe from Leytonstone, who’s been training with her dad to qualify for the games. When he dies suddenly, her world falls to pieces.

On a dark stage surrounded by a chalk square of a boxing ring, she tells us how her boyfriend Jamie doesn’t understand and her dad’s best friend Len – also a trainer – keeps telling her to take a break. Chloe’s life at this point is a struggle that parallels a fight. She’s bitter, punchy, pissed-off and her teenage troubles are amplified by her loss and the weight of her goal.

The piece is as furious as any ten rounder. Augustine takes us with Chloe through every skip and every left hook. With astonishing energy she jumps and leaps, shouts and laughs her way round the stage. Chloe is full of bravura and she’s funny, but she’s also a bit vulnerable. It’s the moments where she pushes herself too far that you see she’s beginning to unravel at the edges.

‘Bitch Boxer’ is less about the specifics of London 2012 and more about how having something to fight for can be a lifeline for young people. From the off, Augustine has the audience on side so that by the end all we want is for Chloe to break through, succeed and get that knock-out.

By: Daisy Bowie-Sell


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