It’s a story that’s been told before – of discovery, determination, and then swaggering pride before a fall. But Roy Williams adds an extra dimension by locating this trajectory of two black teenage friends, from delinquency to top level boxing, firmly in the ’80s. It’s a time when white trainer Charlie thinks it’s fine to refer to his protégé as “boy”, won’t let him date his daughter and claims the punters don’t care who wins.  All they want is to see black guys beating the shit out of each other.

The stylised fights are thrillingly choreographed, the young actors toned and totally convincing. If the smell-the-sweat staging sometimes blurs the dialogue, it’s a small price to pay for a ringside view of this short, punchy play. 

Royal Court Theatre, SW1W 8AS
Tube: Sloane Square
020 7565 5000
Until July 31