The Royale’ a Richly Layered Play

Harry Hamm

harry star 4stars The Royale a Richly Layered Play

Staging a play about boxing is a real challenge. Reality is the obstacle. But the new show at The Rep’s Studio theater called “The Royale,” the final presentation of this season, handles it in a unique manner using rhythms and a dominant crashing beat that gives it excellent symbolism and power. It’s a grabber from the moment the show begins,

royale 3 The Royale a Richly Layered Play

Photo courtesy of The Rep

“The Royale” is a fictional piece that resembles the framework of the real boxing career of  “Jack ” Johnson, an American boxer who became the first African American world champion in 1908. The lead role in this one-act play is a character known as Jay “The Sport” Jackson, played credibly by Akron Lanier Watson.

royale 2 The Royale a Richly Layered Play

Photo courtesy of The Rep

Key in the telling of the story is Jackson’s Manager Max, played very effectively by Lance Baker.

royale 4 The Royale a Richly Layered Play

Photo courtesy of The Rep

Equally prominent is the role of Jackson’s sister, Nina, played wonderfully by Bria Walker. It is her character that brings to light the real poignancy of this play dealing with the personal and emotional risks of The Sport’s quest for the top of the boxing world, a pinnacle so high it may bring his downfall in many different ways.

“The Royale” is a fascinating work, full of surprises. It take’s place in the early stages of the Jim Crow era. That was a long time ago, but this production will leave you wondering if much has really changed.

“The Royale” runs through March 26.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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