BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE FRINGE 2014: BITCH BOXER Is an Explosion of Physicality and Vast Talent
Reviewed Wednesday 12th February 2014
At the 2012 London Olympics, women's boxing was added as a new sport. Chloe Jackson, a 21 year old from Leytonstone who took up boxing under her trainer father ten years earlier, when her mother walked out, is determined to compete, with an eye on the gold medal. In London and at the Edinburgh Fringe this show sold out, had great reviews, and won awards, including the Holden Street Theatres Award. It is now at those theatres for the Adelaide Fringe, ready to thrill audiences.
Charlotte Josephine's script is well realised by director, Bryony Shanahan, on a minimalist set by Daniel Foxsmith, with the lighting, by Seth Rook Williams, having great effect in delineating scenes. Interestingly, Josephine went to a boxing gym for a few lessons to ensure verisimilitude in her script, and became so interested that she continued, recently winning a silver medal at the Golden Girls Championship in Boras, Sweden
The initial set is a bare stage and one chair. Chloe enters with her sports bag, takes out a few handfuls of white powder and traces out a square on the floor to be the ring. Everything else in Bitch Boxer is left entirely to Holly Augustine, and what a performance she gives. You will not believe that she only finished studying at drama school six months ago.
Chloe is particularly excited because the Olympic event is to be held at Stratford, not far from her home and she feels that she is at her peak and quite capable of winning for England. She is on top of the world when she introduces herself and explains her goal. She also tells of her private life, the father to whom she is devoted, and Jamie, the boyfriend she keeps secret because her father said to stay uninvolved with men until after the Olympics. We see two distinct sides to Chloe, the all consumed, determined athlete, and away from training, the naughty little girl, cheekily enjoying life.
Suddenly, things change dramatically, and we see so many other facets of Chloe, trying to hold her personal life together, trying to maintain focus on her goal, and trying not to lose control of everything. Augustine gets right inside Chloe and gives a performance that could be used as a master class for aspiring actors. Chloe's journey is an emotional obstacle course and she is an extremely complex character. Josephine's script is rich and filled with possibilities, the sort of thing that crashes in a heap in the wrong hands. In the hands of Shanahan and Augustine it shines with an almost blinding brilliance. This should be on everybody's Fringe list this year.