Benji Reid, The Pugilist

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

The Pugilist is one piece in a solo triple bill by body-popper and performance artist Benji Reid. Benji presents Sweet Boy Barry, a boxer whose career we follow, from early days in the playing field against a local bully to the latter end of his career, losing his fights and his popularity. In juxtaposition with Barry's life is that of Gofer, Barry's second in the boxing ring and observer to his rise and fall. Where Sweet Boy Barry has foundered, Gofer has gained in insight and understanding.

The physicality of this piece is quite straightforward; Barry's movement is strong and aggressive as opposed to Gofer's which is awkward and unconfident; his dialogue at first gormless becomes more assured as he establishes himself in the boxing world. Barry – once strong, silent and determined – becomes arrogant and careless. This text-led piece is played with a mix of humour and predictable solemnity. It doesn't include the body popping technique for which Reid is known, but some simple and precise mime.

The accompanying pieces in the triple-bill are The Holiday – a piece about escapism which draws on Reid's body popping and performance poetry ability – and Style 4 Free, a free-form improvisational piece in which Reid performs against a bass guitar improv, giving a relaxed commentary about the inspiration of his work, referencing popular culture and attempting to incorporate aspects of the space in his piece. But in this short segment he brings nothing particularly surprising or new to the audience. His improvisational process seemed to lack the impetus to make it of interest.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 29