B*tch Boxer

Mon 20th – Sun 26th August 2012


Jenni Reid

at 02:09 on 24th Aug 2012



In this captivating one-woman show, Charlotte Josephine plays the young, tough Chloe Jackson; tough not just as a world-class boxer, but in every aspect of her life. Josephine also wrote this outstanding script, which is evident in the utter conviction she acts with. Everything about her performance is saturated with raw honesty.

You know you are watching something powerful within minutes. Chloe explodes onto the stage in a burst of energy and London slang, all slicked-back ponytail and Lonsdale tracksuit. Obviously the plot, which centres on Chloe’s dream of competing in the London 2012 Olympics, could hardly be more topical, especially given the success of Nicola Adams in the women’s boxing and debate about the ‘appropriateness’ of the sport fuelled by certain journalists. This is clearly a physically demanding show for Josephine herself, and she ends it coated in a sheen of sweat, adding to the grit and realism of her performance. One of the most emotionally and physically impressive parts of the show is a stunning boxing sequence in which Chloe fights (literally) for her place at London 2012. This whole scene is handled superbly well, with all the drama and effort of a real boxing match, and plays upon the ability of the sport to create a rousing atmosphere (think 'Rocky').

But of course, like any great play worth its salt, this is about more than just boxing. Despite the fact that she hardly lets her guard down, even to us, 'B*tch Boxer' gives us a fascinating insight into a woman who upon first impression is loud and confident, but has far more to her than meets the eye. Josephine’s script explores the well-worn themes of love, loss and never giving up, but manages never to seem cliché or trite. “When you’ve spent your whole life fighting”, she explains to us, “it’s difficult to let someone else take care of you”. When her mother tells her after her father’s death to keep her chin up, she defiantly replies: “Nah … it’s chin down, fists up”. She confesses to us her love for her “d**khead” boyfriend Jamie, but is unable to properly express this to him, just as she regrets being too embarrassed to hold her dad’s hand in the school playground. Josephine is utterly captivating onstage, and music and lighting provide a very effective accompniamnet, clearly designed to a professional standard.

My only disappointment was that the show had to end, and I could not follow Chloe Jackson even further into her journey to the Olympics. Everyone loves a show that can make you both laugh and cry – this one will do so in abundance, and will leave you in no doubt that Women’s Boxing has earned a rightful place on the world stage.


Sukhmani Khatkar

at 02:22 on 24th Aug 2012



In a year when Nicola Adams became the first ever female to win Olympic gold in the ring, obliterating the sport’s long established gender barrier, 'B*tch Boxer' is a timely masterclass in dedication that truly showcases the spirit of personal endeavour.

Charlotte Josephine’s depiction of quick witted, feisty Chloe Jackson is outstanding. What is most impressive about this one-woman show is her sheer dedication to the role. Throwing herself headfirst into the character, Jackson’s unrelenting commitment ensures that she is utterly believable as this aspiring young boxer from Leytonstone. With a brave bullishness and persistent energy she explodes onto the stage, documenting the twin tragedies of parental loss and relationship break-up with a candidness that is not only funny but moving. The parallels between Josephine’s professional industry and that of Jackson as she embarks on the long road to London 2012 are what give this show its completeness. Set to a blasting soundtrack of Johnny Cash, Rihanna and even Eminem, an intensity is maintained throughout that guarantees her credibility. Furthermore, not only should Josephine be praised for her performative abilities, but also her writing. Her script has been written with a brutal honesty. From quipping about the time her mother “buggered off with some bloke she met at Tesco. I s**t you not” to the painful realisation that her relationship with boyfriend Jamie is all but over, she has succeeded in creating a protagonist that is, above all, likeable for her honesty.

The tale of a fighter triumphing in the face of adversity has been well worn. From 'Rocky' all the way up to 'Million Dollar Baby' audiences have been sharply sensitised to the ruthlessness of “the fight”. And yet what Josephine does sparkles with originality. Written before the Games themselves, her insight into the multitude of sporting journeys that have so recently come to dominate national thought is remarkable, perhaps even more so given such recent breakthroughs in women's boxing itself. The ability to be current in stylish, thoughtful and moving fashion should earn her high praise.

'B*tch Boxer' is an excellent production. It is rare to see someone like Charlotte Josephine who seemingly excels at both being an original writer, as well as impressive performer. Certainly first rate.


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