Review: Gypsy Queen

3*
This was a one off performance at Moss Side Boxing Club, Manchester.

Gypsy Queen is the story of ‘Gorgeous’ George O’Connell, a bare-knuckle fighter from a traveller family, a hero to his people and a self-proclaimed Gypsy King. George enters the world of professional boxing which puts him on a collision course with his roots, his fears and his very identity. In the opposite corner, Dane ‘The Pain’ Samson, the young pretender and son of a boxing legend. He is fighting his own battles that lead to a tragedy that neither could predict. This critically acclaimed love story about two men who find each other in the most unlikely of worlds. But can two men raised to fight ever learn to love?

Gypsy Queen explores LGBTQ visibility across sport, faith and the concept of masculinity. This important topic – and particularly its focus on boxing – makes it worth a watch and it has the potential to make a real impact on people. The two hander is performed by Rob Ward and John Askew and their dynamic and energy makes for an enjoyable watch.

We were fortunate that this particular performance was a special site-specific showing of the play at Moss Side Fire Station boxing club – and this really helped to ground the play in reality.

The performances from both of the actors were admirable, and they worked hard to embody the nine different characters. Some characters were much stronger than others -but the two main characters of George O’Connell and Dane Samson were really prominent. Personally, I would have enjoyed more of a focus on their story and relationship. Alongside this, moments of humour added buoyancy to the play, particularly when it was dealing with difficult topics.

As a whole, I felt like there were a lot of storylines, and some of them maybe didn’t need as much prominence. I would have enjoyed getting into the psyche of the two main boxers and the intensity of their relationship as opposed to seeing so much of their lives. Each storyline contained dramatic moments that meant that it felt as though everything was pivotal – and sometimes this took away from the emotion I wanted to feel and the connection I was hoping for with the main characters.

We need more stories like this and I really hope this play gets people thinking. An enjoyable production.

© M. Holland 2019

For more info and future showings of this production, visit the Hope Mill Theatre website.

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