“Bitch Boxer” by Charlotte Josephine

at Underbelly, Wednesday 15th August 2012

There is something inherently theatrical and performative about boxing, which is why so many films and plays have been made on the subject. Charlotte Josephine’s Bitch Boxer (presented as part of the Old Vic New Voices season) plays on this aspect off the sport, and capitalises on the fact the London 2012 Olympics featured female boxers for the first time, whilst simultaneously offering a beautiful portrait of a woman suffering grief at the death of her father.

Fighting in a boxing ring is analogous for fighting to get through grief, with the sharp bursts of pain and intense concentration both entail. This is mirrored in the production, which sees loud bursts of music and movement as Josephine, who performs the monologue, bounces around the chalked square.

Josephine’s text drip feeds us info about her life leading up to this moment (which is the minutes before a major fight), as she prepares herself to go into the ring. The theme of achievement and winning is more to do with doing better than yourself rather than defeating others, and throughout all the sadness, happiness is found. The rhythm of the script is comparable to performance poetry, and is spoken with as much precision as the boxer’s punches.

But the most impressive part of Bitch Boxer is Josephine’s performance, which rises and falls with the cadences of her script and the emotions found within, proving herself to be an extraordinary portrayer of feeling. As she bounces round the space, she also recites her lines with stunning speed (though never too fast so that we can’t keep up) and gives the best performance I’ve seen so far at the Fringe. It’s a nigh-on perfect production, which doesn’t fail to dazzle and touch.

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