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Gypsy Queen review at Vaults, London – ‘a multi-faceted love story’

Rob Ward and John Askew in Gypsy Queen at Vaults, London Rob Ward and John Askew in Gypsy Queen at Vaults, London
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Gypsy Queen evolved as a response to the 2016 Winter Olympics in Russia, where a zero-tolerance approach to LGBT+ rights was on the rise.

Written by Rob Ward, it’s a deft two-hander that examines the effects of toxic masculinity within the world of boxing.

Rising star boxer Dane Samson has no problem with the physical implications of being gay but struggles with the emotional side. Scrapper George O’Connell has a traveller background and despite continued efforts, his mother still can’t find him the right woman.

Dane and George’s tentative relationship may be unconventional and seem doomed from the outset, but Ward’s multi-faceted love story plays out with a ray of hope. Ward as George and John Askew as Dane deliver a whole spectrum of characters, however it’s as the sparring partner’s coming to terms with their emotional needs that resonates in this tightly woven drama.

Adam Zane directs with sensitivity and invention, allowing the slick yet poignant narrative to play out with economy. Following successful productions on the Edinburgh, Manchester and London fringe, the show comes to the Vault Festival ahead of a fresh tour.

The extinction of homophobia in sport might seem like a pipe dream, but plays such as Gypsy Queen suggest it’s not altogether impossible.

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Verdict
Slick, sympathetic exploration of gay love in a homophobic environment
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