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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Shadow Boxing

Daniel Newton

Genre: Drama, Solo Show, Theatre

Venue: Assembly George Square Studios


Low Down

Alone on a stage adorned with nothing but a metal bucket, a punching-bag, a worn pair of boxing gloves and a suit jacket, the character Flynn tells us his story, weaving his gut-wrenching narrative through his cruel childhood, his rise to boxing stardom, and his tragic fall from grace.


A square stage of a boxing ring with a large boxing bag, a bucket and a chair sets the scene for this play very well. Directed by Mdu Kweyama and written by James Gaddas this an intense one person play exploring a boxer’s rise and fall in life. The text is hard hitting and the boxer, Flynn looks uneasy until he does some moves. These are not necessarily boxing moves, but oddly, a fast few seconds of intricate steps. Blink and you’ll miss it, but it is certainly intriguing!

Flynn is played by Daniel Newton and he takes this character on with full force. Wearing grey trousers and waistcoat, white shirt and black tie, Flynn looks uneasy at first and we know that there is something boiling below the surface. Newton is totally committed to the character and his situation through his presence, physicality, voice and depth of emotion that all work together to make this an exciting performance of a poignant character. Like so many people, Flynn had challenges growing up, especially with his father. He was told to be strong but that he will never amount to anything. Flynn crossed all the hurdles to become a boxer. However, our past creeps up on us and even in our better times pulls us down.

Wearing boxing gloves at times Newton exercises by punching the bag, it’s a cathartic and energetic activity and he continues to talk through his monologue while moving or skipping. Sometimes Flynn talks in dialogue or narrates to the audience, which is very effective. Zingy music plays at times that add expectations to the piece. Flynn has certainly seen better days at the time of life that we meet him, but he manages to find a bright moment here and there. An intense and moving moment is when he looks at himself in a mirror and then talks about the dysfunction he has experienced in his life.  The jabs and practice punches not only add to the authenticity of this piece but the bag becomes more than we expect, which is creative and adds depth to the meaning of the play and Flynn’s character.

Kweyama’s directing and rate at how the play flows and builds keeps the dynamic energy going towards the impactful end. Newton’s performance is raw, focused and free – with a poetic, powerful delivery.  The writing of this play is taut, full of vibrant imagery and describes the push-pull of inner turmoil and stereotypes, when one wants to break free and let loose. What happens to Flynn in the end? No spoilers here! This is a very human story that is very well acted and directed. The setting is full of moody atmosphere that is very appropriate for this play. If you’re looking for an intense one person play, then this is one to look for, without a doubt!