Back in the ring. Nicholas Pinnock fighting fit for Round Two of Bush Theatre’s The Royale

Nicholas Pinnock in The Royale

The gloves are off as Nicholas Pinnock prepares to return to the ring for a rematch of Bush Theatre’s knockout boxing drama, The Royale.

Joining him for the second bout is Jude Akuwidike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe. Due to building work the production, again directed by Bush artistic director by Madani Younis, is moving to The Tabernacle, Notting Hill.

Pinnock, who recently starred in ITV’s crime thriller, Marcella, returns to play Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Jude Akuwudike (Othello, Hamlet, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl) will play boxing trainer Wynton, while Franc Ashman (Peep Show, Tennison, DCI Banks) will reprise the role of Jackson’s sister Nina. Martins Imhangbe (Lionboy, Das Ding) will play Jackson’s sparring partner Fish.

Nicholas Pinnock in The Royale (3). Photography by Helen Murray

Written by award-winning American writer Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black), The Royale returns following a sell-out run in spring 2015 (Read Stage Review’s verdict bit.ly/1LNbSzS).

Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson dreams of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905 and, in the racially segregated world of boxing, his chances are as good as knocked out.

Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, The Royale is inspired by the often overlooked story of Jack Johnson, a boxer who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the most famous and the most notorious black man on Earth.

Through the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, The Royale examines society’s relationship with our present-day cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them when they find themselves outside of the ropes.

The Royale is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice.

Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.”

The Royale will be staged at The Tabernacle as the Bush Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment of its building. The venue, a former church, swinging sixties hang-out, community centre and, more recently, a training ground for young boxers, continues to host amateur boxing matches to this day.

The Royale, a Bush Theatre production, runs from November 3 – 26 at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.

Watch the original trailer and behind the scenes footage of The Royale:

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