Rarely have I been so engrossed in watching great actors create art than I was watching the amazing Kamal Angelo Bolden and Guy Van Swearingen in Brett Neveu’s The Opponent, which is receiving its World premiere at the intimate A Red Orchid Theatre. This two-man play, which revolves around the hardcore world of boxing, is a raw honest look at the profession which has been known to ravage its prey.
Told in two very quick moving acts, which separates the action by five years, director Karen Kessler interprets the piece as a boxing match itself, with a trainer and gym owner Tre (Van Swearingen) sparring with an up and comer, Donnell (Bolden). Through the course of the training sessions, we become instantly involved with these two characters as they open up to each other about their backgrounds and why boxing became a way of life for each of them. A generation separates the two characters, but one thing remains constant; that is the respect for the sport and the athletes that participate in it.
The action takes place on a fully functioning boxing rink design
ed by Joey Wade, which takes up most of the space floor space of the theatre. Fight director John Tovar's movements are so real, you will forget you are sitting in a theater and instead think you are actually ringside. As the theater heats up and Tre and Donnell spar and box, you can smell the raw sweat coming off the actors which adds to the emotional realism of this piece.
Not since The Gin Game has there been such a remarkable theatrical piece for two actors and Mr. Van Swearingen and Mr. Bolden will forever be remembered for creating these characters for decades to come.
The Opponent runs through December 2, 2012 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. THERE IS NO PERFORMANCE ON THANKSGIVING and October 26th is a special performance with a reception* Tickets range from $25-$30 ( a solid value for theater of this quality) * $45 includes reception