AGAINST a backdrop of throbbing electronic music and flickering video screens, five teenagers are showing off some fast and furious moves.
It feels more like a nightclub than a boxing ring but then the Underworld soundtrack fades, the glitzy sides of the ring lose their sparkle as the lights change and the dancing opponents set about the sweaty business of training.
Frantic Assembly’s mix of physical theatre and multi-media in this tale of young boxers each fighting for a better future makes for a visually striking show.
Written by Bryony Lavery, who has worked with Northern Stage in the past, it’s a constantly moving story with action slickly choreographed, the cast (Margaret Ann Bain, Ali Craig, Matthew Trevannion, Taqi Nazeer and Stuart Ryan) bouncing on their toes, sparring, ducking, jabbing and – in the case of Nazeer’s Ajay – posturing, while some stylised scenes are quite beautiful to watch.
Distinct characters emerge from the five super-fit actors: the lone gutsy girl, her slightly nerdy admirer, the aggressor, the peacock. And then there’s Cameron, the new raw talent who joins their Glasgow gym – under the critical eye of the trainer (Keith Fleming) who calls himself God – and who shares typical teenager scenes with his mother (Julie Wilson Nimmo) who just wants to keep him safe.
Before a wall of TV screens, the slightly elevated boxing gym set brings the action up close and personal as a big match approaches and stand-out moments involve a cleverly hidden revolving stage, rotating the opponents in slow-motion then freezing the fight as each boxer takes a turn to step away and assess things then slip back into position.
Then the ring itself shifts, even the overhead lighting rig moves, and the story takes a turn that I, for one, hadn’t seen coming.
After 90 minutes of straight-through action that pits dreams against reality while lightening the load with some Glaswegian humour, it ends with a sudden impact that leaves a lasting impression.
Great stuff ... don’t miss it.