Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Charlotte Josephine gives a stellar and outstanding performance as our narrator, Chloe as we follow here down the garden path before back into her flat. From there comes training, the loss of her father and how she manages to cope. It is a sizzling narrative that we would call gallas in Glasgow which has guts on the outside as well as on the inside of a one woman show that punches well above its weight.
Chloe is a young female boxer in 2012, the year of the Olympics. This is the year that female boxing was allowed into the Olympics for the first time and for this London athlete it is an opportunity that has come from the other side of the world to right upon her doorstep. It is an opportunity she cannot miss, but the death of her father throws some of that certainty into doubt until we realise just how determined she is. The training gets more intense, her feelings for Jamie get less important and then she gets the opportunity to fight. We watch her in a ring where she is alone but the presence of the opponent is so well drawn it has the excitement of a bout, a fight, the contest between herself and her shadows. That she wins, in more ways than one, is perhaps predictable but the journey is just all worthwhile.
This is beautifully observed and wonderfully well written by Charlotte Josephine. The core of any theatrical piece is the writing and here we have someone who knows and understands ambition as well as the drive that any young athlete has who may reach the pinnacle of their sport. Chloe is all nerves and ambition whilst having a clear pathway mapped ahead of her. We trust her partly because of the authenticity of this London girl who has a truly infectious story to tell.
Josephine is utterly spell binding onstage. As a boxing fan I can tell you that training and that fight was authentic. There was real sweat in the Attic as we saw what dedication actually means to a character and an actor who wants to make it real. I have seen many solo shows this year but this one will remain longer in the memory than most because of what it must cost Josephine every time she enters her own ring.
With the creation of a ring onstage that Chloe draws – like a sumo ring in Japan we are given very little else by way of staging. The lighting is moody and atmospheric, the costume the right side of believable and the package we saw was just sublime. I came away feeling this was another triumph for the Pleasance in what has been a very good year.
Solo shows can be a hit or a miss dependant upon the writing, performance of our narrator and the theatricality of the event. This had all three fuse into one electrifying and amazing hour. If anyone who wants to do solo shows wants to go and see how it should be done, this is the one to see. Josephine has the ability to be feminine and charming before turning that into snarliness and aggression. That aggression does not frighten but heighten the tension within the room. In many ways we want to be frightened and we want to be taken along to the brutality of this sport. It is testimony to both the writer and the performer – remarkably the same person – that we just lay down and let her count us out to ten in submission.
I really enjoyed this for all the reasons already stated but also because as a piece of theatre it manages to transcend the boxing. We have a very believable young girl who is funny and vulnerable as well as scary. It is her charming beauty that allowed me to relax and just enjoy. We were on her side in the ring as well as onstage. For me this is more than a must see; it is also a shouldn’t miss.