Aonghus Óg McAnally in Fight Night. Image uncredited.
If mince pies make for a pleasurable seasonal revival, a less pleasurable revival is the mandatory New Year resolution to get fit. When masochists join gyms, wear lycra, and commit other heinous crimes all for the sake of a better self. A spirit very much in evidence, lycra aside, in the current revival of Gavin Kostick's award winning and critically acclaimed Fight Night, touring nationally to celebrate its tenth anniversary. In which Aonghus Óg McAnally gives a sickeningly fit, tour-de-force performance of a boxer getting fit for the fight of his life.
Like Rocky, especially Rocky Balboa (or Rocky 6), married to The Champ and Ken Loach's Looking For Eric, Kostick's tale follows Dan, a working class boxer, as he sets about rebuilding himself for his son and his family. A loser looking to step out from under the shadows of his successful brother and Dad, Dan has a lot of soul searching to do. Which is likely to prove a million times harder than all his physical training. Or even his big fight on fight night.
A beautiful piece of writing, Kostick's simple yet moving tale digs deep while making it all look effortless. Serving up Masculinity 101 with such accessible ease it should be mandatory everywhere gender is taught. For in Fight Night, as in life, men are only interested in impressing other men. And there's a code to that. A code that Dan tries to honour while rewriting it in an absorbing performance by Aonghus Óg McAnally. Which Bryan Burroughs directs with a detailed eye to the physical as a path to the psychological, shaping an impressive performance on both levels. Ensuring that even if you hate everything about boxing, you will love everything about Fight Night. A revival as strong now as it was ten years ago. Even though it should come with a Health Warning: risks inspiring you put on lycra and take on the world. Or yourself. Not to be missed.
Fight Night by Gavin Kostick, presented by Rise Productions, is currently on tour:
18, 19 and 20 January, Cork – The Everyman
31 January, Tallaght - The Civic Theatre
4 and 5 February, Dublin – Smock Alley Theatre
10 February, Donegal – An Grianán Theatre
12 February, Tralee – Siamsa Tíre Theatre
For more information, visit Rise Productions.