By Dana Zhang
“The Bare Knuckle” is a laidback story that struggles a bit in getting its point across. Jake Boston, who grew up in East London, recounts his childhood with his father, a champion bare knuckle fighter. Mr. Boston calls his father his hero, whom he has long admired for his courage to stand his ground and fight. His father was also an alcoholic, and that is the crux of the conflict in this story.
In an interview with All About Solo, Mr. Boston said, “Bare knuckle fighting was originally intended to quash any troubles or qualms any individuals or families had with one another. The fights could take place that night, or were planned in advance. The typical physical figure for a bare knuckle fight? There isn’t one. You just show up and fight. The hard man image comes with the territory.”
Mr. Boston’s story is rife with fond memories of attending Sunday matches with his father, and going to his Uncle Kenny’s house. There are sunny, warm anecdotes about Mr. Boston’s role models, all set to a grooving reggaeton soundtrack. Mr. Boston circles around the question of masculinity, but doesn’t resolve his musings about whether he should follow in his father’s footsteps. “My dad believed that the more you could drink, the more masculine you were,” he said. “All of this guided me in writing the show, and allowed me to question what it means to be a man today. Do I want to be a mirror image of my dad? Am I a totally different kind of man? Or am I a combination of both?”
Mr. Boston’s anecdotes about his wild adventures with family and friends are meandering and wholesome. They pay tribute to his father and the funny, grand moments they had together. He offers no universal insights, but considers his performance to be therapeutic.
The personable and endearing Mr. Boston lays on the Irish accent thick when he does impressions of his uncles. At one point, he breaks out into a dance, to the audience’s delight. His charismatic performance is a warm tribute to his father’s legacy.
Written and Performed by Jake Boston
Directed by Lucy Richardson
November 19 at 7:30 PM
Photo: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
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DANA ZHANG is a multimedia journalist versed in editorial, photography, and video editing. She writes about pop culture, the performing arts industry, and the human experience. Zhang graduated from New York University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned at Newsweek Media for a year while in university. Zhang is also an avid gamer and dancer.