Writer: Daniel Keene
Director: Edwina Strobl
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Working in partnership with The Refugee Council, Boxman is the desolate story of Ringo, an asylum seeker sleeping rough in London. Ringo lives in a world of shadows, where invisible to passers-by he’s haunted by ghosts of the past. Boxman is a quiet and understated portrayal of loss.
Eschewing the traditional narrative of refugee stories, we never find out which country Ringo has fled from, though presumably from a country like the Central African Republic or South Sudan where children are forced to become soldiers. Pulled from his mother’s arms at the age of 11, Ringo swapped pencils for guns. And by the time he came home again, his village had been razed to the ground.
We also never hear much about his journey to Britain or the bureaucratic process that allowed him to stay. Instead, the story focuses on Ringo’s mental health and seems to suggest that he is suffering from PTSD. Reice Weathers as Ringo seems caught between childhood and old age. One second Weathers is giggling, wide-eyed and frantic like a child while the next he is motionless, looking mournfully to the side remembering the past like an old man.
Weathers is excellent as Ringo, his innocent charisma easily attracts the audience, though, at times, he could reminisce without having to look at the floor. Director Edwina Strobl could mix up the delivery styles more as this 50-minute show loosens a little every time Weathers turns away from the audience. The most effective point is when Weathers slips out of character and speaks in his everyday voice. Whether accidental or not, this postmodern move is strangely dramatic.
With just a suitcase, a stool and a flattened cardboard box on stage, which is now Ringo’s home, Boxmandoesn’t need any tricks or storyline twists. This is a beautifully written piece on the loss of childhood, and hopefully, it will continue to tour. Weathers gives an impressive performance as Ringo, and when his giggles begin to sound like the rattle of gunfire, it’s a compelling one too.
Reviewed on 6 July 2018 | Image: Contributed