Interview: Libby Liburd and Cathy Tyson talk Fighter, Stratford Circus - "The drama of a fight night coupled with the laughter of a comedy night".
Review: Little Death Club, Underbelly - flaming nipple-tassels, dick pics and drag queens

Review: Fighter, Stratford Circus Arts - A single mum steps into the ring to fight for equality

Fighter's message is punchy and it's an important story to be told.

(c) Alex Brenner  no use without credit  Libby Liburd - Fighter (_DSC1109)
 Libby Liburd and David Schaal in Fighter. Photo: (c) Alex Brenner


Set in a boxing gym, Libby Liburd's play Fighter opens with girls and boys (from Fight for Peace's Newham Academy) training alongside each other.

The year projected on the wall at the back of the stage slowly dials back to 1998 and as it does the girls slip away. When single mum Lee (Libby Liburd) enters the gym, she is stepping into a man's world.

At this point in time, women have only been allowed to box as amateurs in the UK for two years and Tommy (David Schaal), who owns the gym, says he only trains men. 

He points Lee in the direction of the nail bar down the road.

(c) Alex Brenner  no use without credit  Libby Liburd - Fighter (_DSC1351)
 Libby Liburd and Cathy Tyson in Fighter. Photo: (c) Alex Brenner


But Lee is a fighter, she's had to be bringing up a child on her own and she wants to fight. She sets about getting what she wants with a little bit of help from Tommy's blunt and potty-mouthed wife Alison (Cathy Tyson) who points out that he is being an 'arsehole' by not letting Lee train.

As Lee navigates the male-dominated world of boxing she also comes up against prejudice from other quarters where she is told she isn't setting her son a good example.

Liburd's Lee is the epitome of bubbly but at times her energy and humour overshadow the drama and more serious messages of the piece.

(c) Alex Brenner  no use without credit  Libby Liburd - Fighter (_DSC1811)
Libby Liburd - Fighter. Photo: (c) Alex Brenner

While there is no doubt you are on Lee's side and admire her determination, Tyson's Alison is a scene stealer and I'd have loved to have seen a bit more of her character.

Fighter's message is punchy and it's an important story to be told but I'm not sure the balance between comedy and drama is quite right.

It is at Stratford Circus Arts until April 27, is 70 minutes long and I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

You might also like to read:

Read my interview with Libby Liburd and Cathy Tyson here.

If you want more girl power on stage then try Top Girls, National Theatre - read my review here ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

 

 

 

 

 

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