Review: Bitch Boxer, Soho Theatre

“Of course I’m gonna compete! I’m not letting anything get in the way”

After a successful run last year in Edinburgh, Charlotte Josephine’s monologue Bitch Boxer is now stepping into the ring upstairs at the Soho Theatre and fresh from being part of the all-female company at the recent Donmar’s Julius Caesar, it is full of punchy energy. Set in Leytonstone, East London in 2012, Chloe Jackson is aiming to represent her country in the 2012 Olympics and it is particularly special because it is the first time that women’s boxing has been allowed at the Games.

In Josephine’s hands, Chloe is a determinedly tough cookie with a hard earned resolve. Abandoned by her mother aged 11, her father turned all his attention onto his daughter and helped her to channel her rage and frustration into the noble art and discovering as her trainer, that she has a real affinity for it. But the arrival of a boyfriend on the scene threatens her focus and when tragedy strikes, the challenges she faces suddenly seem much greater.

It is an incredibly physical performance – Josephine is constantly on the move throughout and has transformed herself into a genuine boxer, so the feints and punches and thrusts that accompany much of her delivery come from a place of real authenticity. But along with the tough outer shell comes the fragility of a young person struggling to come to terms with her own emotions and vulnerabilities. It is a compelling mixture and Josephine dances lightly between the two with skill and dexterity.

Bryony Shanahan’s assured direction ensures a carefully calibrated balance of the different elements of the show – incorporating a wry sense of humour too, especially with the Eminem sequence – but Josephine emerges as a real star here, bringing together emotional integrity along with her physical prowess. Recommended. 

Running time: 55 minutes (without interval)
Playtext cost: £3
Booking until 9th March then touring

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