Beautiful Burnout goes to the heart of boxing – the glory, the passion, the power, the hunger, the pain and the pay-off. The production, co-presented by Frantic Assembly and National Theatre of Scotland, is the result of time spent researching boxing gyms around Glasgow and Edinburgh, to discern the “truths” that underlie the “blood sport”.
Following the lives of a group of young wannabe boxers at a local boxing gym in Glasgow, we get to know and understand the drive, dedication and challenges that fledging boxers face in order to achieve their dream. Some make it. Some don’t. Some learn of discipline and respect; others learn life’s lessons the harder way. In the end, we learn what it means to box – to have a dream and to go for it no matter the cost (and sometimes, the cost is dear).
The production harbours a fabulously Scottish flavour and energy, and while a play set within the boxing culture of working class Scotland may not seem appetising for a wide audience, the show is immersive and alluring; universal in its themes and insights, it’s striking for not only those who love and understand boxing but for those who detest it as well.
Set within a boxing ring and sporting an array of television screens as the backdrop, the set twists and turns and unfolds – transforming before your very eyes and churning out surprise after titillating surprise. The dialogue is cheeky, unassuming and revealing, with the gutsy actors matching the exceptional writing with punch and personality. Mixing dramatic performance with rigorous fitness choreography, the actors submit themselves to gruelling and extensive movement sequences, sweating and puffing as the audience sit wide-eyed in their seats, jerking and jolting in sympathetic rhythm. The lighting and sound is integrated perfectly with the production, creating a dynamic, edge-of-your-seat masterpiece that affects the audience to almost dodge the jabs and upper-cuts as the performers do!
Beautiful Burnout is a must-see at this year’s Sydney Festival. It is a funny yet incredibly honest and moving exploration into what is truly at the heart of the boxing culture. You need not be a fan of the sport to love this production! It’s a knockout!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Frantic Assembly and National Theatre of Scotland (UK) present
Written by Bryony Lavery
Directed and Choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett
Music by Underworld
Design: Laura Hopkins
Lighting Design: Andy Purves
Sound Design: Carolyn Downin
Video Design: Ian William Galloway
Cast: Blythe Duff, Kevin Guthrie, Eddie Kay, Vicki Manderson, Stuart Martin, Taqi Nazeer and Ewan Stewart
York Theatre, Seymour Centre
January 18th–29th, 2012