Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

The right combination of matiness and menace

Facing Up

Made in Wales , , February 17, 1992
Introduce a woman into a man's world and you have a good contender for strong drama. That seems to be the premise for Ieuan Watkins' play Facing Up, set in the world of boxing.

The twist is that he has written the play, his first to be professionally produced, as a comedy. So when the boxer's girlfriend invades the changing room to a chorus of "This is no place for a woman", it sounds like something to laugh about rather than something to make an issue of.

Yet there are issues presented here. By the second act - one is set before, one after, the big fight - the characters are questioning the motives, and the motivation, behind their involvement in the sport. And the theme of sexual politics also runs through the play.

The play begins as Lloyd (Jams Thomas) is preparing for the fight with trainer Dick (William Thomas). The preparation is meticulous: slow in terms of drama, interesting for curiosity value.

Enter Lloyd's girlfriend Vicki (Helen Gwyn) and with her the central conflict of the play. What Vicki has to tell Lloyd - a simple confession that she does not fit his comfortable stereotype - forces him to reconsider his attitudes and loyalties. He goes into the ring confused, and comes back a changed man.

Manager Eddie (Laurence Allan) and villainous friend Benny (Steven Speirs) underline, through their own reactions to Vicki, the puritannical double standards which Lloyd is forced to question.

The behind-the-scenes boxing ambience creates an interesting setting for the story, and the acting is convincing. Helen Gwyn is sympathetic as the spirited but vulnerable Vicki and Steven Speirs provides just the right combination of matiness and menace as the morally questionable Benny.

Reviewed by: Liverpool Daily Post

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