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  Sucker Punch at Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph

Sucker Punch

Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph
2433 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago

It's the 1980s, Michael Jackson rules the radio waves and Conan the Barbarian is the box office king at the movies. Aspiring black boxers, Leon and Troy, both have promising futures in the ring. When race riots explode in their London neighborhood, these two friends are forced to make a tough decision. Years later, they square off, facing each other and the men they have become. An electric knockout, the much lauded and award-winning playwright Roy Williams' Sucker Punch takes an unflinching look at family, friends and the world of boxing.

Thru - Oct 18, 2015

Tuesdays: 7:30pm
Wednesdays: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sundays: 3:00pm



Price: $15 - $60

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-871-3000

Running Time: 1hr, 45mins; no intermission

www.victorygardens.org


Victory Gardens Theater - Biograph Seating Chart


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  Sucker Punch Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...With the caveats of the last few minutes, when he has not quite figured out how to let the play range beyond the gym and maintain the style and the rules, and the need for a few more listening ears more closely cocked, Bullard has forged one boffo milieu with this show, never dull for a second and not only for suckers."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...The boxing ring is a very particular kind of stage, and when it is lifted onto the platform of a genuine theater it undergoes a fascinating transformation. Yes, the battle for physical dominance is still there. But what comes into far sharper relief is the true nature of the fight, and the deep well of anger that fuels it."
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...This sad tale could easily be pat or preachy, but it's neither because Williams never loses sight of his characters' complexities and the conflicting currents of love and resentment swirling among them. Ditto for Bullard's vivid staging, which has a questing, restless energy thanks in large part to Demus and Love, who pull no punches in their sharp and ultimately poignant performances as Leon and Troy."
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Zac Thompson


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Adrenalin and testosterone are heady substances, but though fight designer Chuck Coyl and boxing coach Ruben Gonzalez have drilled their actors ( regardless of age or gender ) in physical prowess ranging from Maurice Demus' breath-sucking monologue recited while cross-jumping rope, to Kenn E. Head's shove-and-tumble take-down, Dexter Bullard's characteristically kinetic direction of a cast encompassing seasoned troupers like John Judd and Walter Briggs, as well as newcomers like Denzel Love and Taylor Blim never ignores the psychological corrosion that eventually leads even winners to lose their morale after defiance has soured it cynicism. If, as Leon's shiftless father asserts, audiences love to watch Black men getting beaten up, what is our role in perpetuating a game rigged from the very beginning?"
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...In a thrillingly staged, gorgeously designed production (Lee Fiskness’s lighting design is absolutely stunning), the remarkably charismatic Demus stands out amid a terrific ensemble that also includes Taylor Blim as his love interest and Walter Briggs as a bigoted white boxer. Embodying Leon in all his complexities and aspirations, not to mention an impressive athleticism, Demus delivers a star-making knockout blow."
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Kris Vire


Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Raw as realism requires, good plays about boxing are more than just Rocky slugfests. Like Clifford Odets’ seminal Golden Boy, they transform an atavistic popular distraction into a metaphor for sweet success, the reward of pluck and nerve–or, as the title of Sucker Punch implies, a parable on selling your soul in deals with the devil. Dexter Bullard’s pile-driving Midwest premiere pulls no punches in galvanizing U.K. playwright Roy Williams’ pugilistic 2010 play about “Black British” dreamers. It scores big–as sheer sensation, engrossing storytelling, and high drama."
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Lawrence Bommer


Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...Director Dexter Bullard does an exceptional job of creating a very natural feeling world where simple scenes (such as Leon teaching Becky how to do the moon walk) never feel forced. He also coaxes a lot from the cast with Maurice Demus putting in a marvelous performance as Leon. Leon here is almost like an onion peeled away so finely that in the end there is little left. Doing much of this peeling is Charlie with John Judd perfectly cast in this role. Charlie’s inherent racism is presented here as a character flaw that prevents him from fully committing to his almost, but not quite surrogate black son. Leon is good enough to fight for him but would never be good enough to date his daughter. Leon is of course impacted by Charlie’s lack of faith in his character, but one senses that Charlie is even more so negatively affected."
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Noel Schecter


ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...Sucker Punch is more that simply a sports or a boxing play, it is a unique look into the racism suffered by native born blacks in England as well as how even committed mentors put their bigotry above their proteges. The staging and the wise casting makes Sucker Punch a most worthy experience."
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Tom Williams


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...British playwright Roy Williams is a solid writer and brings a certain amount of realism to his work. “Sucker Punch”, now onstage at Victory Gardens. in its Midwest Premiere is such a tale. The time is the early 1980’s thru the decade. Our location is the United Kingdom primarily as well as the Summer Olympics is 1988. The play deals with young fighters and their desire and aspirations to win and be looked up to. The young boys that we follow in this one hour and forty minute tale are Troy ( Deftly handled by Denzel Love) and Leon (a powerful performance by Maurice Demus)."
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Alan Bresloff


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Staged with spunk and steadfastness by Dexter Bullard, and peppered with tender moments of spirit and humanity, this terrific drama brings all the sweat and drive of the boxing ring into the world of theatre, while also providing a powerful story about race and racism. With captivating, dynamic performances delivered by a talented cast, particularly John Judd, this strong production opens Victory Garden's new season with a knockout of a show."
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Colin Douglas


Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...Dexter Bullard’s directing seamlessly mixes humor with the physical action and emotional explosions to keep the play intense and compulsively watchable. The original production ran for 90 minutes without an intermission. Bullard’s staging goes a full 1 hour and 50 minutes without a break. The last few minutes are a bit anticlimactic, a letdown for the audience following the fight between Leon and Troy. But overall this is a lean and taut production, never slowed by the 20 minutes of stage time."

Dan Zeff


The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...As Leon, the lead of Sucker Punch, newcomer Maurice Demus is transcendent as the young fighter who quickly realizes his potential and makes the climb from challenger to champion. His ascent is complicated from balancing the demands of his often patronizing and bigoted trainer/manager, Charlie (a gruff performance by John Judd that leaves his motivations mysterious) his friend from the neighborhood, Troy (an engaging Denzel Love), and even an ill-advised love affair with Charlie’s daughter (Taylor Blim). As a boxer he absolutely convinces us of his athleticism – at one point he delivers an extended monologue while performing jump rope. As an actor, he shows us the pain he endures from sacrificing everything he has for a shot at the championship belt."
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Tom Lawler


  Sucker Punch Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.


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