Written by Libby Liburd
Directed by Julie Addy
25th – 27th April 2019
Boxing was illegal for women in Britain until 1998. That’s not a typo: 1998. This is when the action of the play is set – when the boxing rings of Britain were just getting used to women running the ropes.
Written by and starring Libby Liburd, based on her own experiences as a single mother who found belonging in the male dominated boxing scene of the nineties, Fighter is a comforting narrative about forging your own path.
The script is full of warm and witty character voices, though the plot was a familiar rehash of obvious cliches. It felt like a show that wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be – a three hander or a monologue? An action packed drama or a domestic comedy?
The main cast, including Cathy Tyson and David Schaal as Lee’s (Liburd) trainers, were excellent performers. Their interactions were a joy to watch. A group of young boxers from Fight for Peace provided energetic set dressing – skipping, bobbing, and feinting – but were a little awkward when called on to act.
Images courtesy of Alex Brenner
The production raises some great questions about the value of boxing – for women and men – as well as motherhood. Lee was at her most convincing when justifying how the skills of being a fighter are similar to those needed for raising a child.
This is an enjoyable show with an engaging cast and a few exciting moments. Despite issues with pacing, it’s valuable to see a play about a single mother and a female boxer, and fun to see one with this much heart.
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