Review: Chapel Street/Bitch Boxer

March 24, 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Fast and furious

Traverse Theatre: Thurs 21 –Sat 23 March 2013
Guest review by Irene Brown

Fast, furious and full of fancy footwork, this double bill from two fresh, award-winning English companies has the high impact immediacy only delivered by the young.

Chapel Street, by Luke Barnes for Scrawl, is a tale of two unconnected young people, Kristy and Joe, living in the north of England. The separate narration is delivered directly to the audience, with what sounded like authentic accents, casually and intermittently breaking the fourth wall.

Chapel Street promotional image. Pic Alex Brenner

We learn through the fast-paced stream-of-consciousness delivery that Joe is a Sun-reading, unreconstructed and unemployed male with a misplaced sense of entitlement, while Kristy, despite the look of a small, eager doll, has ambition and vision that goes way beyond her current life. Their parallel lives collide briefly one wild Friday night in the eponymous Chapel Street before parting again, each changed in their own particular and affecting way.

The no holds barred writing is raw, funny and full of comic celebrity similes and broken taboos. It shows the harsh rules of The Game being followed, as the balance sheet of life of missed chances is redressed through danger, sex and violence.

With no props but some old crates and changes of clothes, the two promising young actors, Nicola Coughlan and Josh Mayes-Cooper, give wild and immediate performances with some high energy dancing involved. Coughlan’s constant dress-tugging was the perfect mannerism of the anxious yet minimally-clad young woman out on the town and Mayes-Cooper epitomised the shallow lad out for the ride of his life with the biggest bag of popcorn.

Honest and touching

In Charlotte Josephine’s one woman show Bitch Boxer for Snuff Box Theatre, Josephine plays young female boxer, Chloe, with manic energy and a fantastic crooked smile. It is the 2012 Olympics and women boxers are taking to the ring for the first time.

Charlotte Josephine in Bitch Boxer. Pic: Alex Brenner

Charlotte Josephine in Bitch Boxer. Pic: Alex Brenner

With skill and colossal energy, Chloe lunges and punches her way through grief to the music of Johnny Cash following the death of her Daddy who was also her trainer.

Again with minimal props – only her sports bag, a chair and a self-drawn chalk boxing ring – Josephine morphs into the male and female characters with ease throughout the piece. Her street talk sounds utterly real and her vulnerability is honest and touching. This Daddy’s girl crashes stereotypes throughout.

In boxing terms, the cliché of keeping your chin up is dangerous. Chloe’s message to self has to be ‘chin down’ for her to survive. She jabs her way through her life, going from warrior to wean and back in this tough exposé of emotions. A brilliantly executed rap-mime enthralls and amuses, bringing a light moment to a harsh tale. The raucous crowd sounds and climactic fight music are atmospheric as Josephine sweats and skips through her tightly written narration.

This astonishing double bill is intense, punch-to-the_gut theatre about being young and dealing with life on the edge. Don’t miss!

Running time 2 hours
Run ends Sat 23 March 2013

Chapel Street/Bitch Boxer double bill on Tour:

27 March Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
13 April Alnwick
Playhouse
01665 510 785 Book online
23 – 24 April Warwick
Arts Centre (Bitch Boxer Only)
024 7652 4524 Book online
26 April Eastleigh
The Point (Bitch Boxer Only)
023 8065 2333 Book online
1 – 2 May Leicester
The Curve
0116 242 3595 Book online
3 – 6 May Brighton
Fringe Festival
01273 91 72 72 Book online
9 May Redbridge
Drama Centre
020 8708 8803 Book online
25 – 27 May Brighton
Fringe Festival
01273 91 72 72 Book online
31st May Aberystwyth
Arts Centre
01970 62 32 32 Book online
7 June York
Theatre Royal/Takeover Festival
01904 623568 Book online
8 June Constantine
Tolmen Centre
01326 341353 Book online
11- 15 June Plymouth
TR2, Theatre Royal
01752 230440 Book online

ENDS

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