REVIEW – Shadow Boxing (The Lowry, Salford)

shadow-boxingDate: 20 june 2015
Upstaged Rating: 

Shadow Boxing is a vivid and intense hour long monologue by boxer Flynn (Jonny Collis-Scurll). Determined not to end up like his father, who was also a boxer only not as successful, Flynn puts himself through gruelling training regimes showing complete dedication to his sport. However, amidst Flynn’s theatrical show of strength we learn that this play is not wholly about his boxing career but runs a lot deeper and explores his experience of coming out as a gay man.

Jonny Collis-Scurll gives a brave, intensive and athletic performance as Flynn, with only a punch bag for company, he must do in the region of fifty press-ups, pummell about eight invisible opponents and perform numerous jabs and rapid boxing combinations during the one-man show. Written by James Gaddas, the language is striking and often poetic, Flynn describes his boxing gloves as ‘lances of scarlet on rods of steel’; at the same time I can feel the vibrations of the punch bag reverberate through my body as I’m sat in the audience. It makes arresting viewing and I feel unnerved by this volatile and vulnerable man with red rimmed eyes staring out towards the crowd.

Directed by Donald Pulford, the stage is set sparsely with matting, a punch bag and a bench to give the impression of a gritty boxing gym. Pulford’s clever lighting design aids Collis-Scurll’s expressive story telling by neatly suggesting other settings and supporting the dramatic build-up as Flynn turns to face his toughest opponents, his personal demons.

Shadow Boxing is a very intense hour long experience, with Jonny Collis-Scurll giving a high energy and charismatic performance, presenting the inner turmoil that Flynn faces while also demonstrating his physicality as a boxer. By the shattering conclusion we are left doubting whether Flynn will ever resolve the battle within himself and feel comfortable with his sexuality.

-Kristy Stott

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