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Monday, August 16, 2010

FRINGE: Trick Boxing

 

Trick Boxing is exactly what you'd expect of a show that's been touring for the last eight years: a tight, original, charming two-hander. Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan's writing isn't quite up to the standard of Ben Hecht (The Front Page), but the rapid-fire patter is; if nothing else, Sostek should find steady work as a voice-actor. Only the dance sequences feel as if they're holding something back, though perhaps that's just because Sostek needs to breathe before pivoting back into his multiple levels of narration. One minute, he's breaking the basics of boxing down to us as Bill Buck, a trainer; the next, he's the hunchbacked ex-fighter Tommy, who is wheezing fight-fixing threats down Bill's back; moments later, here's the just-off-the-boat apple-seller who Bill's pinned his hopes on, the newly christened Dancin' Danny David, who swing-dances his way around every punch in the book. As our hero steps into the ring, Sostek becomes the announcer, using hand-puppets to show us Dancin' David's improbable matches (each more hysterical than the last); stepping out of the ring, he's being trained in the art of romance by Bella, a good ol' dame. There's a lot packed into the show--and the show consequently packs a punch; it's a winningly screwball, perfectly pugilistic performance. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "A below-the-belt disqualification" and 5 being "A new world champion," Trick Boxing gets a 4.5.