SCENE IT: Newton impresses in SHADOW BOXING at the Baxter

Barbara Loots

 

SHADOW BOXING, starring Daniel Newton as directed by Mdu Kweyama, is set to captivate Baxter Theatre audiences until 21 May 2022. In this, his professional debut, Newton delivers a nuanced performance that embraces the strong narrative that drives this one-man play penned by James Gaddas.

If someone told me that a one-man play about boxing would absolutely grab my attention and move me emotionally, I would not have believed them. I have happily been proved wrong with this latest staging of SHADOW BOXING at the Baxter Theatre. This production demanded and kept my attention from the utterance of the first word and forced me to look beyond the bravado of a boxer chasing more than just the next big knock-out.


At first SHADOW BOXING fools you into thinking it’s a simple story about a man wanting to distance himself from his father’s failures as a boxer. Yet, once you settle in to see what unfolds you realise that the scars being exposed run deeper than that of someone with daddy issues: boxer Flynn shows himself to be as vulnerable in his personal life and quest for identity, as he is ferocious in his fighting.


The play swiftly unfolds on a scarcely dressed stage. Tension builds quickly as Flynn confronts the demons from his past and present, and in doing so trades one shadow for another.


A heart-wrenching coming-out story, SHADOW BOXING is the epitome of a Greek tragedy. It is characterised by that tumultuous moment when Flynn realises that by embracing his identity to become the man he wants to be he is also forced to confront the bias and bigotry of all those who previously stood ringside to share in his boxing-champ glory. Flynn is revealed as a character continuously standing in defiance: first (by choice) of any association with his father’s unfortunate boxing career, and then (by societal prejudice) of narrow-mindedness while demanding respect and dignity.


The narrative is very effectively driven by Newton’s vivid verbal and physical performance that reveals a clear understanding of the depth and nuance this play demands. The impact is comparable to someone hitting an emotionally exposed nerve with impressive precision: rapid, true and memorable.


An emotionally gritty and physically forceful performance, SHADOW BOXING at the Baxter Theatre promises to impress with its story of broken noses and determined heart as it unpacks themes of identity, sexuality, legacy and dignity.


You have until 21 May 2022, to see Daniel Newton theatrically sparring with his character in SHADOW BOXING at the Baxter Theatre, with tickets available online through Webtickets.