Next month, The Bush Theatre winds back the clock to 1905 America, where racial segregation, in all its brutal, ingrained and systemic horror, is accepted as a fact of life. But amid this world of bigotry and discrimination, one man has a dream – some 58 years before the great Martin Luther King would petition for his revolutionary reverie to be converted from idealism and hypothesis to reality. For Jay Jackson – whose story here is based loosely on the boxer Jack Jackson – wants, with every fibre of his being, to triumph as the first black heavyweight world champion.
The Royale delineates Jackson’s pipe dream, which is afforded possibility against the odds with the unlikely aid of a boxing promoter (albeit a crooked and self-interested one), via the concoction of a sensational scenario for the benefit of the press, in which this unknown boxer would step into the ring with the reigning (white) champion.
Written by Marco Ramirez, who has garnered plaudits as the searingly sharp talent behind crime comedy Orange is the New Black script, the play has won critical acclaim for its 12-round format, and its illumination of how sports stardom can transcend social and political boundaries, not to mention the brick wall of bigotry that its protagonist faced.
Starring Ewan Stewart (Titanic) and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr, the pack-a-punch play is directed by The Bush Theatre’s artistic director, Madani Younis.
13 March – 18 April 2015. Evening performance tickets, £20; matinees, £15. Concessions available.
Book at bushtheatre.co.uk