It was watching some programme on telly a few years back, which was a tribute to the 1980s that gave me the first initial idea to write Sucker Punch. The programme ma...… Read more
In the red corner: Leon Davidson – Black British champ or Uncle Tom? In the blue corner: Troy Augustus – American powerhouse or naïve cash cow?
Two former friends step into the ring and face up to who they are. Sucker Punch looks back to the 1980s and asks if the right battles have been fought, let alone won.
Roy Williams’ early work at the Royal Court was supported by Jerwood New Playwrights, in partnership with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. His previous plays at the theatre include Lift Off and Clubland in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs and Fallout in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, which was later made into a film for Channel 4.
Recent credits elsewhere include Category B, part of the Not Black and White season at the Tricycle and Joe Guy for Tiata Fahodzi at Soho Theatre.
Age guidance 14+
The performance contains strobe lighting and haze effects
Running time 1hr 30mins approx
Sucker Punch was developed, in part, with assistance from the Orchard Project, a program of The Exchange
Seating Plan Details
The Jerwood Theatre Downstairs has been reconfigured for this production, with the entire Stalls floor replaced with a boxing ring with seating on two sides. Above the Stalls seats is our usual Circle and, opposite this, a new Circle level has been built, giving fantastic views of the ring from both sides. The Balcony is offsale.
All seats at £25 and £18 (Stalls and Circle) have excellent views of the stage.
£12 Circle seats have a restricted side view, and £12 Stalls seats have partially restricted views, owing to several thin columns supporting the Circle above.
You can download a detailed seating plan for this production.
Select a Date
Dates in June
|Fri 11 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 12 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Tue 15 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 16 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 17 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 18 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Press Night||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 19 Jun 2010||7:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Tue 22 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 23 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 24 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 25 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 26 Jun 2010||3:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 26 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Mon 28 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10 Monday|
|Tue 29 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 30 Jun 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
Dates in July
|Thu 1 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 2 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 3 Jul 2010||3:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 3 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Mon 5 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10 Monday|
|Tue 6 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 7 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 8 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 9 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 10 Jul 2010||3:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 10 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Mon 12 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10 Monday|
|Tue 13 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 14 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 15 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 16 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 17 Jul 2010||3:00pm||Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 17 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Mon 19 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10 Monday|
|Tue 20 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Captioned Performance||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 21 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 22 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 23 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 24 Jul 2010||3:00pm||Audio Described Performance, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 24 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Mon 26 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10 Monday|
|Tue 27 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Wed 28 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Thu 29 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Fri 30 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
|Sat 31 Jul 2010||7:30pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£25, £18, £12|
Sold out Performances
- Concessions £5 off top two prices * (avail. in advance for all perfs until 19 June incl. and all mats. For all other perfs, avail. on a standby basis on the day).
- Limited free tickets available for 25s and under through the Arts Council’s national scheme, A Night Less Ordinary. Call the Box Office for availability. £6* tickets also available.
- School and HE Groups of 8+ 50% off top two prices (avail. Tue–Fri).
- Groups of 6+ £5 off top price (avail. Tue–Fri).
- Access £12 (plus a companion at the same rate).
*ID required, not bookable online. All discounts are subject to availability.
4 stars Michael Billington, The Guardian, June 20th 2010
Roy Williams, as we know from Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, is adept at using sport as metaphor. The big difference with Sucker Punch is that he shows as well as tells. Under Miriam Buether’s design, the Court has been radically restructured around a boxing ring in which we see two young black fighters skipping, sparring and engaging in a title bout. Far from being liberated, however, they remain pawns in a larger game: as someone points out: “White people love nuttin’ better than to see two black men beat up on each other.”
Set in the 1980s, Williams’s play takes place in a south London gym owned by a small-time, pugnacious Thatcherite, Charlie, who spies talent in two local teenagers. Under Charlie’s tutelage, the conformist Leon becomes a contender, going on to win British and European title belts. But he is accused of being an Uncle Tom, not least for sacrificing his love for the boss’s daughter to his ambition. Troy, on the other hand, is always in trouble with the law, decamps to Detroit and is spotted by a powerful black promoter who inevitably pits him against his old friend, Leon.
Even if Troy’s rise is implausibly rapid, Williams skilfully uses the ring to create a fable about race and money. He shows how Leon and Troy enjoy the illusion of autonomy but are ultimately at the mercy of promoters, for whom they are just meal tickets. Sacha Wares’s thrilling staging makes the audience complicit in the process and is rich in telling detail: even the way Leon relies on Charlie to unravel his hand-wraps says everything about the boxer’s state of dependence. Aided by superb performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Welsh as the two fighters and Nigel Lindsay as the racist Charlie, Williams’s 90-minute play packs a knockout punch. 4 stars Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard, June 21st 2010
At the heart of Roy Williams’s bracing new play is a performance of piercing intensity by Daniel Kaluuya. As Leon, a young black boxer growing up in the Eighties, Kaluuya combines anger, eloquence, a pained worldliness and a strangely childlike capacity for fantasy.
Leon and his friend Troy learn to box at the London gym run by abrasive white trainer Charlie. Against a backdrop of Thatcherite politics and simmering racial tension, Leon develops into a formidable contender but seems confused about his identity.
Meanwhile, Troy emigrates to America, where he too becomes a daunting fighter yet is exploited by a manipulative promoter. When the two are finally reunited in the ring, its a showdown between different value systems and also an illustration of the way young black men can be goaded into destroying one another.
Williams revisits themes familiar from his previous work: the brittleness of male friendships, the meaning of defeat, the travails of black working-class experience as well as its pleasures, the malignancy of ethnic stereotypes and, more obliquely, the question of what kind of Britain weve created and what kind we want.
The subject matter is marrowy, and its satisfyingly developed in Sacha Wares’s involving, nicely paced staging. The key relationships are intelligently defined and suffused with pathos. Theres agile choreography by Leon Baugh, and Errol Christie’s contribution as the productions boxing trainer is palpable.
Designer Miriam Buether has completely reconfigured the Royal Court’s main house. Its an effective move. All the action takes place in a gym, the central feature of which is a grubby boxing ring. The audience perches either side of it: we’re nervous spectators surveying the confrontations on the canvas.
The performances are assured. Anthony Welsh’s Troy is a mixture of bluster, resentment and vulnerability. He’s particularly good at selling Williams’s breezy streetfighting talk. Charlie is invested with bruised humanity by Nigel Lindsay and Sarah Ridgeway’s Becky is touching. Theres well-judged work, too, from Trevor Laird and Jason Maza.
There are a few notes of implausibility, and the ending isnt exactly heavyweight, but Williams articulates key aspects of the experience of black British youth in the Eighties in a way that feels fresh and authentic. He handles the issues smartly; the writing is taut, and there are some stinging lines. As a theatrical spectacle, Sucker Punch packs a meaty one-two, and Kaluuya is a knockout. 4 stars Charles Spencer, The Telegraph, Junes 21st 2010
The main house at the Royal Court has been spectacularly transformed into a boxing club for this bruising new play by Roy Williams, for my money the undisputed heavyweight champion of black British dramatists.
Dominating what were once the Court’s front stalls is a life-size boxing ring, on to which most of the audience gaze down from the circle and new, raised seating built on the former stage. The lighting is harsh neon and you can almost smell the sweat as the characters spar.
The fights themselves are thrilling. Even though no punches actually connect – the actors would surely be hospitalised if they did – the movement is so brilliantly choreographed that you still experience the visceral, guilty excitement that a good boxing match always generates.
Highly effective use is made of strobe lighting to suggest the disorientation of being punched, and the show’s main character also manages to keep up a running commentary of his thought process as he prances round the stage, throwing punches and flinching from blows.
The play is set in a run-down London boxing gym in the Eighties, at the height of Thatcherism, sus laws, race riots and tension between young blacks and the police.
Having caught two black 16-year-old schoolboys breaking into his premises, the white owner and trainer Charlie Maggs has taken them on as young contenders rather than handing them over to the police. The bolshie Troy soon rebels and goes off to America, where he quickly becomes a star boxer. The more compliant Leon puts up with a lot of abuse, ends his affair with Charlie’s daughter at his trainer’s racially prejudiced insistence, and attempts to ingratiate himself with the whites, to the fury of many in the black community. Finally, four years later, the scene is set for a mighty rumble between Leon and Troy, with the latter openly scornful of his old friend for becoming such an Uncle Tom.
The play isn’t as searching as some of Williams’s best work about tensions within the black community, and the dramatist never satisfactorily explains why the likeable Leon becomes such an abject wimp, at least outside the ring. But this is nevertheless one of those plays where one really wants to know what is going to happen next.
Director Sacha Wares builds up the tension in a gripping, interval-free, 90-minute production and Miriam Buether’s wonderfully authentic, venue-transforming design is a terrific coup. The only drawback is that the new configuration creates a reverberant acoustic and you cant always follow Williams’s snappy street dialogue.
The piece is superbly acted (and boxed) by Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Welsh as the contrasting young bloods, with strong support from Nigel Lindsay as the far-from-contemptible cockney trainer and Sarah Ridgeway as his appealing daughter.
A big shout out, too, to choreographer Leon Baugh and boxing trainer Errol Christie, who have also played a part in making this hard-hitting drama such a theatrical knock-out. 4 stars Dominic Maxwell, The Times, June 21st 2010
Roy Williams’s new play is a punchy piece of work, both literally and figuratively. Literally, it is the story of two young black Londoners who become champion boxers in the 1980s. There is a big fight at the end – as any Rocky fan would demand – and its brilliantly staged, summoning up the elegance and the ugliness alike of two athletes tearing chunks out of each other. Sacha Wares’s muscular production turns the auditorium into a boxing arena, with a ring in the stalls and blocks of seating behind it on what is usually the stage. It feels like an event.
Figuratively, Williams is out to recapture a decade in which political correctness had yet to become the norm: where Nigel Lindsay’s Charlie could be a good bloke, yet demand that Daniel Kaluuya’s Leon, his main charge, stop seeing his daughter, Becky. Leon is a showman: jumping to James Brown and moonwalking around the ring. He gets hassle from white people for being black, from black people for being an Uncle Tom.
His best friend, Anthony Welsh’s less emollient Troy, will go on to become his foe. Caught confronting the police, he feels that Leon has taken the white side by running out on him. It’s not all that easy to agree: some of the plays ideas about racism and black identity are narrated more than dramatised. What the story gains in pace it loses in depth. There are exchanges missing that might make Leon, Troy and Charlie less emblematic, that might better unify Williams’s thematic ambitions with his boxing tale.
As usual with Williams, the dialogue is crisp and bespoke: motives are mixed, nobody is a hero, nothing is just black and white. Lindsay is superb as Charlie, a mix of old-school decency, old-school prejudice and a blinkeredness that is all his own. Welsh is terrific as Troy, reinventing himself with scary conviction as a cool-talking American. And Kaluuya carries the show as Leon. Williams underlines his vulnerability sometimes – would he really try to reminisce with Troy just before their big fight? – but Kaluuya makes sure that we always buy him. Both men carry off thrilling set-pieces in which they give speeches while doing tricky skipping exercises- big credit, as with the balletic yet vividly painful big fight, to the choreographer, Leon Baugh, and to the boxing trainer, Errol Christie.
There are strong turns from Trevor Laird as Leons louche dad, Gary Beadle as Troys American manager, Sarah Ridgeway as Becky and Jason Maza as Charlies white hopeful. Williams makes reference to race riots, Arthur Daley, Our Price and the crash of 1987 to summon up the ugly side of the decade. Its not a total knockout, but its a mighty entertaining bout. 4 stars Claire Allfree, The Metro, June 22 2010
Punchy and hard-hitting
The image of two black childhood friends trying to destroy each other in the boxing world championship is a potent metaphor for imploding race relations in Thatcher’s Britain in Roy Williams’s new play.
Leon and troy are aspiring boxers whose friendship starts to crack thanks to a potent cocktail of the Brixton riots, racial exploitation and accusations from within of selling out to the white man. Sweet, conscientious Leon, who moves in the ring like Michael Jackson, knows he has to throw himself in with racist, down-on-his-luck white trainer Charlie if he is to make anything of his life. Troy, more volatile and constantly in trouble with the police, views Leon’s decision as a betrayal and, somewhat improbably, moves to the US to remake himself as a star under the blingy black trainer Ray.
There are several credibility-testing flaws in Williams’s unusually underdeveloped script, which is spread far too thin over 90 minutes. But Sacha Wares gives this tangy portrait of the 1980s racism a knockout production, turning the auditorium into a boxing ring that reeks of sweat and seedy glamour, and choreographing the various fights to a sublime soundtrack of James Brown funk and a pounding, heartbeat bass line.
Daniel Kaluuya is outstanding as the limber Leon, who cant find a place in the world even when he is champion of it and for whom the membrane-thin nature of fame is a correlative for his precarious sense of identity. Nigel Lindsay is also excellent as ugly, disillusioned Charlie, a man of the times for whom loyal, dependent Leon is an object of pure expediency. 4 stars Sam Marlowe, Time Out, June 22nd 2010
Show of the week
Schoolboys Leon and Troy both hang around Charlie’s tatty London gym, where they clean the bogs, mop the floor and learn to box. What’s a jab or an upper cut compared to the blows of routine racism – a constant both in the banter of the establishment’s testosterone-thick atmosphere, and outside on the streets of Thatcher’s Britain, where the sus laws bring them into frequent contact with heavy-handed police? But if Leon, determined to do better in life than his gambling-addict dad, is prepared to bite his tongue, Troy would rather talk with his fists, in and out of the ring. Troy’s mum sends him to live with his father and start afresh in America; Leon goes pro and begins to make his name. When the two former friends square up in a prize fight, it’s obvious that theres more than a title at stake.
Like Muhammad Ali, Roy Williams’s new play floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Witty, angry, electrifying and poignant, its directed with fleet-footed flair by Sacha Wares on a set by Miriam Buether that gives it a grippingly visceral authenticity. The audience is seated on two levels, either side of a real boxing ring, where the play’s gladiatorial combat of compromise, aspiration and integrity takes place. And the combination of Leon Baugh’s intricate choreography with expert training by 1983 European boxing champion Errol Christie is ferociously beautiful.
In putting up with the repellent attitude of Nigel Lindsay’s hard-pressed, on-his-uppers Cockney Charlie, and with the vile chants of racist spectators, is Leon (Daniel Kaluuya) hero or sell-out? Is the exploitation of Anthony Welsh’s hothead Troy and less reprehensible, just because this blinged- up bully of a manager is black? A burgeoning romance between Leon and Charlie’s daughter Becky is a formulaic and under- explored plot development, and the questions Williams poses are familiar. But their treatment here is vital and immediate- and prompts fresh interrogation of twenty-first- century attitudes, where racism, if often in a more insidious form, remains a social evil, and where gangsta culture supplies some questionable role models.
And Ware’s production is a knockout, dialogue and internal monologue wrapped around the elegant violence of the sport, the fights and frenzied excitement gut-wrenchingly convincing yet triumphantly theatrical. A fast, thrilling dramatic bout that packs a political punch. 4 stars Paul Taylor, The Independent, June 23rd 2010
A swipe at the legend of the ring
Roy Williams seems to have a strange, metamorphic effect on the Royal Court. The main house was radically reconfigured as a sink estate seven years ago for Fallout, his excellent play written in response to the Damilola Taylor case. Now this same auditorium has been spectacularly transformed into a boxing arena, with the punters seated on either side of a central bloodstained ring, for his new piece, Sucker Punch, which has just opened in a brilliantly dynamic staging by Sacha Wares.
From the South African jazz musical King Kong to the American play The Great White Hope, theatre has vividly dramatised how this sport can be a painfully illusory route to liberation for an aspiring black man. Sucker Punch puts a 1980s twist on the theme. With the race riots as backdrop, it’s set in a south London gym run by Nigel Lindsay’s Charlie, a perennial loser and working-class Thatcherite. When his peevishly prejudiced, blue-eyed boy (Jason Maza) defects to another manager, he pins his ambitions on a couple of black teenagers. Mentored by Charlie, the compliant Leon (Daniel Kaluuya) goes on to win the British and European titles, but he’s castigated as an “Uncle Tom” and bows to racist pressure by obediently dumping his out-of-bounds girlfriend, the boss’s daughter. Enraged by the police and their Sus laws, rebellious Troy (Anthony Welsh) emigrates to the US where he’s picked up by a leading black promoter. Cue a climactic bout between these estranged friends.
Trained to a startling peak of fitness by Errol Christie, Kaluuya and Welsh perform this head-to-head contest as a dazzling dance of simulated realism and rhythmic stylization, slipping effortlessly between an objective and a subjective presentation of the proceedings. Although borne along by humorously chippy dialogue, the play has the schematic plotting of a cautionary legend and the diagram-like clarity of the staging metaphor, where the ring comes to feel more like another form of ghetto than a launch pad, drives home the crucial, discomfiting irony. The ruthless world of professional boxing offers only a fantasy of escape and independence to both youths.
Charlie may effectively have become a surrogate father to Leon, whose own dad (Trevor Laird) is the reverse of a role model (a layabout rogue and hypocritical white-skirt-chaser who places bets on the opposition if he thinks it will aid further womanising). The manager’s solicitude, though, is far from self-interested and he’d rather throw a fight than contemplate a romance between a black boy and his privately educated daughter (a rather under-written character who functions as a device for exposing the emotional depths of Charlie’s prejudice and the hopelessness with money that will become catastrophic as the recession bites). But the fur-wearing black American promoter (Gary Beadle) is no angel either, crudely revelling in his slave-owner control over Troy. In the old days, the latter had bridled at being called “boy”; now he’s routinely branded as his boss’s “bitch”. As Leon’s dad had warned him, sanctioned black-on-black violence can be a lucrative way of indulging white racism by proxy: “they love nuttin’ better than to see two black men beatin’ up on each other. They too afraid to do it themselves, so they get you to do it.” 4 stars Kate Bassett, The Independent on Sunday, June 27th 2010
The battlefield is a boxing ring in Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch, centring on a black British teenager called Leon who, in the 1980s, sets his heart on becoming a champion fighter. To placate his racist trainer, Charlie, Leon abandons his best mate and his white girlfriend Charlie’s daughter.
The Theatre Downstairs has been thrillingly transformed into a grungy den for Sacha Wares’ premiere, with the audience packed round the spotlit boxing ring. Nigel Lindsay is great casting as Charlie, broken-nosed in baggy sweatpants, superficially affable. Daniel Kaluuya’s Leon is memorable too, air-boxing as he recalls bouts blow-by-blow. The let down is that Williams’s father-child relationships feel schematic and the plot developments are compacted.
Susannah Clapp, The Observer, 27th June 2010
Each punch lands with a thump; at times the blows fall so quickly they sound like the beats of a panicking heart. Each jab, hook and uppercut is lit by the glare from fluorescent tubes. Each clamber into the boxing ring is seen several times, caught in the mirrors wrapped around the stage.
Everything in Roy Williams’s new play is amplified and magnified. Every move in the ring resounds outside it. It’s England in the early 1980s and this is the story of a fight. Two teenage boys, both black, are pitted against each other: white people “love nuttin better than see two black men beat up on each other.They too afraid to do it themselves”
They grew together as boxers in the same gym and they’ve grown apart. Both are champs and both are trapped. One is angry in America, where he’s controlled by a manager who milks him for cash and calls him “bitch”. The other is a wimp in England, where his lush of a white trainer speculates with the prize money, gets him to give up dating his daughter he doesn’t want brown grandchildren and calls him “boy”.
There’s little complication in the plot of Sucker Punch, which sets two accusations about black youth Uncle Tom and hoodlum against each other. Some aspects are undercooked: it’s never quite clear why the sap is so feeble. But the play casts long shadows: outside the ring there are sus laws and riots; inside it, Williams belts out crunching dialogue. And the vibrancy of Sacha Wares’s production is tremendous. Sarah Ridgeway is jail-bait pert as the girlfriend; opportunism seeps from every pore of Nigel Lindsay’s manager. Trained up by Errol Christie, Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Welsh move from swagger and slouch to amazing ferocious exactness as they fight and train: even their skipping, when they wield the rope like a sword, is worth a medal.
Everything is enabled by Miriam Buether’s knockout design. She has transformed the Court into a place of gladiatorial combat: spectators eyeball one another over the ropes of a boxing ring, lit by Peter Mumford so that it both smokes and shines. Giant punchbags dangle from the ceiling; sponsors’ ads cover the walls; even the corridors into the auditorium are plastered with posters of old fights. This is a theatre truly squaring up to its subject.
4 stars Maxie Szalwinska,The Sunday Times, June 27th 2010
You’d be a sucker to miss Roy Williams’s pugilistic tale of two black teenagers, Leon and Troy, who start out best pals and end up facing each other in a championship fight. The Royal Court’s auditorium has been reconfigured as a boxing ring – redolent with the tang of stale gym kit – for this clenched fist of a play.
The story, which highlights the endemic racism of 1980s Britain, is satisfyingly worked out. Sacha Wares’s trim, confident production delivers fight scenes every bit as exciting as they need to be, and it’s acted with elan: Daniel Kaluuya’s Leon effortlessly delivers monologues while training, his skipping rope whipping at cyclone speed.
Related News & Blog Posts
Errol Christie began boxing at the age of eight, with his first proper fight at age 10. By 13 he was schoolboy champion of England and European boxing champ 10 years ...… Read more
- Writer Roy Williams, director Sacha Wares and actors Anthony Welsh and Trevor Laird in discussion with the Royal Court’s Diversity Associate, Ola Animashawun. Download this Podcast
Fri 18 Jun, 7:30pm
Sat 26 Jun, 3:00pm Sat 3 Jul, 3:00pm Sat 10 Jul, 3:00pm Sat 17 Jul, 3:00pm Sat 24 Jul, 3:00pm
Thu 15 Jul, 7:30pm
Tue 20 Jul, 7:30pm
Audio Described Performance
Sat 24 Jul, 3:00pm