Monday, 16 January 2017

Prize fighter, Belvoir

Belvoir launches the season with a relentlessly physical production, transferred from Brisbane’s LaBoite theatre. This is the story of Isa, a Congolese refugee currently living in Brisbane, escaped from the war and starting again as a boxer. The story’s told largely through two boxing matches as Isa gets the chance to challenge for a title fight, and how in the ring he recalls the previous experiences that have led him to this point.

Direction is almost split evenly between director Todd McDonald and fight choreographer Nigel Poulton, so heavily is the boxing featured. There are sharp, dramatic transitions as the performers swap between ringside participants and figures in Isa’s past – from opponent in the ring to warlord, from supportive friend to an instruction in murder. The performers and lighting design turn on a dime between now-and-then. Lighting and simple staging effects ensure this flows fast and furious and keeps the audience gripped pretty tightly.

This is a tight play, barely over an hour, but there’s not a moment that’s undercooked here - I suppose one could slightly argue that there isn't necessarily a lot of character depth in Future D. Fidel's script, but that's not what this is aiming for - this is pure, full contact theatre that’s going straight for the heart and mind.

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