Beautiful Burnout - knockout collaboration a success on all fronts
Raging bulls come to the Fringe
This article is from 2010.
The new play about aspiring young boxers by Bryony Lavery (author of last year’s Kursk and Tony award nominee for Frozen) is a heavy-hitter in more ways than one. It’s a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly that could well be a contender to repeat the success those companies had with, respectively, Black Watch and Stockholm. Part physical theatre, part dance and part gritty drama, it’s also an impressively designed spectacle that employs a revolving stage-cum-boxing ring, strobe lighting and a backdrop wall-papered with plasma screens and a typically pumping techno soundtrack by Underworld.
At the centre of all this smartly executed mayhem, however, is a compelling drama that’s by turns funny and very moving. It revolves around four young lads and one lass from the west of Scotland who are training hard to become professional boxers under the guidance of their seasoned trainer and the view from the sidelines of one of their mothers. For one reason or another the hopefuls fall by the wayside one by one until just two of the amateur pugilists are left to literally fight it out in the ring. It makes for a spectacular climax and the choreography of the fight, which features Matrix-like 360-degree slowed down motion, is astonishing. And what comes after the main event is an enormously poignant ending that challenges preconceived opinions about one of the greatest and most controversial sports of our time.
Lavery has really got to grips with the brutal yet disciplined and inspirational nature of boxing. Choreographers-turned-directors Scott Graham and Steve Hoggett take Lavery’s cracking script and run with it, creating a show that’s at once grounded in reality and full of flights of fantasy. And the super-fit cast are roundly excellent, particularly the young actors who meet the challenge of acting, boxing and dancing often all at once. A knockout.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 7.30pm, £11.50–£14 (£10–£12.50).