Review: 'The Royale' at American Players Theatre is taut and action-packed

Posted June 27, 2023


By Gwendolyn Rice, Isthmus

Just before the biggest boxing match of Jay “The Sport” Jackson’s life, his manager Max spells out the stakes. “You’re going to go in there. You’re going to knock him out in three. Your name’s gonna get written in history, and not in Black history Jay, not in white history either Jay. In something better. In sports history.” That is the dream of the main character in Marco Ramirez’s play The Royale — to transcend race and earn the title of world champion heavyweight boxer, not just the best Black athlete to step into the ring.

Under the deft direction of Tyrone Phillips, a taut, moving, emotion- and action-packed production of The Royale in the indoor Touchstone at American Players Theatre will run through Sept. 27. But this stunning piece is about much more than boxing. The poetic, layered play based on real events explores the personal cost of fighting against systemic racism and the reality of race-related violence in turn-of-the-20th century America.

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