As one of London’s most vibrant venues for new writing and comedy Soho Theatre has carved out a niche as a high profile, and achingly cool, central fringe theatre. Even though it could be argued that Soho is technically the West End, it has a completely different set up (and programme) to the traditional red plush and proscenium arch Palaces of nearby Charing Cross et al.
This being the case is its refreshing to note that the work they present remains diverse, refreshing and unpretentious. Understated one act play The Pyramid Texts is a recent discerning choice amongst several other one act, one man plays showing in June and July. Presented by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and written by Bafta Winning Geoff Thompson the piece is surprisingly static given the fact that it is a story about boxing. Ray (Christopher Fairbank) sits facing a small portable camera for the entire hour, a spot lit punch bag suspended from the ceiling and a pair of boxing gloves on the floor the only indicators of his profession.
Fairbank’s is also surprisingly gentle and quiet as Ray, a professional fighter turned coach who helps troubled young men channel their anger into the sport. At times his sedentary performance means that the emotion of the story is lost, the constricted nature of his pose hard to use to reflect strong feelings, but in general the format reminds the viewer that Ray is not speaking to us. Rather he is recording a message to an unknown person on the camera, slowly revealing Ray’s tragic relationship to this unseen audience member. Ray’s story remains unheard by the person he is speaking to and the audience are unacknowledged voyeurs of his grief.
The Pyramid Texts is not experimental or life-affirming, in fact it is an everyday tragedy; Ray is a beaten fighter bruised beyond repair but graceful in defeat.