It doesn't take much for a play to leave me glowing. All I want is to see a good script handled intelligently, with no slow parts, some strong performances, and nothing pretentious to get in the story's way. That doesn't sound like much, but those who see a lot of plays know it's more rare than you think. Golden Boy, playing on Broadway for the next week, is one of those happy exceptions. I saw it on Friday, and haven't quit buzzing since. It's a gorgeous production, and it has a bit of Grade A stage combat, directed by Grade A fight director B.H. Barry. I spoke to Barry yesterday afternoon, about Golden Boy, Treasure Island and Mulan.
Boxing is so essential to this play—what challenges did you find in designing Golden Boy's combat?
It was one of the strangest challenges ever. All the company went into boxing lessons, and they finished up knowing a lot more about boxing than I did. But the guy playing Golden Boy [Seth Numrich] was not quite as fast as the other boxers, so I had to slow them down.
What they learned was a modern style of boxing, so I had to reorganize what they learned into something that was more theatrical. I mentioned to them that they had to make the hero look better than they were. One of the guys who was really good, he was very, very fast, so I made him an old slugger—someone used to throwing his punches really heavy, a guy who had been beaten up a lot in his life.
What I do is, I try to tell stories through fights. Just doing the fights themselves, anyone can do that. It has to be about character, and it has to tell the story.
It's one of the more fun interviews I've done in a while. Read the rest over at Bullett, and move heaven and earth to see Golden Boy if you can. I've got the film version on my DVR and am planning on watching it this week. If you're lucky, I'll tell you how I like it.