BOUT (SATS theatre), part of The Toronto Fringe Festival 2015, is an intimate, engaged performance about Jackie (Stephanie Carpanini), a woman determined to become a fighter, with dreams of also being an actor. It puts you ringside – literally – with up-close action.
Getting to the sweaty, gritty Sully’s Boxing Gym, a no-frills boxing space up two tall flights of stairs — with no A/C– was not the most pleasant of experiences for someone with a knee injury. I was worried it would negatively affect my overall experience.
The opposite happened. The setting was super intimate and raw. I could even smell the minty balm that Manny (played brilliantly by Matthew Gouveia) applied to Jackie’s shoulders. We could see the sweat on Jackie, who impressively skipped rope for about 10 minutes while we waited for the show to begin. Minus a few hilarious audience interactions by Gouveia, the cast behaved as if we weren’t there – impressive given the proximity.
While overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, it did seem a bit disjointed at times. The fight scene, which the show seemed to be building towards, happened at the beginning. I was expecting a second bout, with a different outcome, and was a bit disappointed that none came – even though the show ended organically. Placing that scene at the end, in a triumphant Rocky-esque finale, may have been more effective.
I’m generally a fan of time-skipping sequences, but I feel that it perhaps took something away from this particular performance. I would have also loved a bit more cohesion with the main messages of the show, and to be honest, I’m not even certain what they were. Being a graceful loser? The beauty of tenacity? Judging ourselves instead of others? Self-discovery? All, or none, of the above?
The performances were solid. Carpanini and Gouveia played well off of each other, and utilized the space and props effectively. The hilarious, well-timed, and engaging Gouveia – who played both Manny, the former-boxer-turned-reluctant-trainer, and a sarcastic casting agent Jackie auditions for- was the highlight for me. His performance was a knockout, and felt just a touch more authentic than Carpanini’s.
If unique, intimate venues, kick-ass women, boxing culture, and up-close, loud, funny, profanity-laced, engaged shows are your thing, don’t miss Bout. It has heart! If you want a neatly wrapped and concluded story with polite language in an accessible, pretty space, skip it.
If you do see it, be sure to check out the photo wall.
- Bout is playing until July 12 at Sully’s Boxing Gym (1024 Dupont Street)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment
- Venue is NOT wheelchair accessible
- Warning: contains profanity, fat jokes, loud music, and scents
July 03 at 10:00 PM
July 04 at 10:00 PM
July 05 at 10:00 PM
July 07 at 10:00 PM
July 08 at 10:00 PM
July 09 at 10:00 PM
July 10 at 10:00 PM
July 11 at 10:00 PM
July 12 at 10:00 PM
Photo of Stephanie Carpanini provided by company