Home Arts Boxing is just show business with blood

Boxing is just show business with blood

by The Concordian November 22, 2011
What happens when you combine old friends, new schemes and enough testosterone to make your head spin? You get Cornered, a darkly funny tragi-comedy about two thugs who can’t seem to quit while they’re ahead.
Written by Jim Burke, a playwright originally from Manchester now living in Montreal,
Cornered will make its Canadian premiere at Theatre Sainte-Catherine. Cornered is directed by Paul Van Dyck, artistic director of Rabbit in a Hat Productions. With a tiny cast of two, Howard Rosenstein and Chris Moore manage to keep the action going, and the audience guessing, throughout the two-hour run.
Rex and Vinnie are shady cornermen who are running a youth boxing tournament for their own profit. The racket becomes complicated when a notorious gangster by the name of Doxy approaches Rex, asking him to make sure the game goes a certain way. As the characters try to outmaneuver one another, hilarity ensues, and the true nature of their lifestyle is exposed.
Van Dyck says the first thing that drew him to the show was its fast-paced dialogue and clever twists and turns. “The script is pretty fantastic. As far as I can tell it’s flawless,” he said.
He describes cornermen as “the men who sponge the boxer’s foreheads,” but that’s not their only responsibility. They are the brains of the operation and handle all the dealings, dodgy or not, that go on behind the scenes.
Though predominantly called a comedy, Van Dyck isn’t so sure. “It’s a little more serious than your typical comedy,” he said. Despite their less than honourable intentions, their ineptitude
makes them almost pitiable. “I think there’s something sad about these characters and their
lives.”
When casting, it was important to Van Dyck that the actors have “a good stage dynamic.” He had worked with both Moore and Rosenstein before in a previous production, and despite them only sharing one scene, he could tell they were a good match. “With a cast of this calibre, it makes my job easier,” he said.
Rosenstein plays the role of Rex, an older, more experienced low-life in the middle of a mid-life crisis. “He’s been in the game a long time but he doesn’t feel he’s getting the
recognition he deserves,” he said.
Despite Rex’s gruff exterior, Rosenstein feels “you have to learn to love your character. [Rex] doesn’t necessarily see himself as a bad person, so neither can I.”
Vinnie, played by Moore, is “a wannabe thug.” He’s younger and gets a lot of abuse from Rex, as the weaker member of the team. “He’s always on the outside looking in. He seeks acceptance, especially from Rex,” said Moore.
It can be hard to relate to a character sometimes, but Moore says there’s always something to form a connection to. “Vinnie really wants to be accepted by Rex, and I think we all want to be accepted by the people we look up to.”
Both actors said the first thing they noticed about the play was the Manchester accents they would have to adopt. “There’s a lot of slang in the script. You might need a glossary,” joked Van Dyck.
Both Moore and Rosenstein were prepared for the challenge, understanding they would have to master the skill in order to properly capture the spirit of the characters. Rosenstein has a great amount for the play itself and hopes to do justice to the story. “It’s a really well written, smart drama and we’re going to honour it.”
Cornered opens at Theatre Sainte Catherine on Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. and runs until Dec. 3. Student tickets are $12.

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