Three weeks ago, he was a corner apple salesman, hustling change from passers-by. Now, Danny finds himself in the corner of a boxing ring, indebted to smooth-talking promoter Buck, and on the wrong side of a championship bout scam. Is he down for the count, or can Dancing Danny David duck and weave his way out of this one?
So begins Trick Boxing, the Sossy Mechanics tribute to 1930’s Hollywood that made its debut at the Minnesota Fringe in 2002. It’s travelled the international Fringe circuit ever since; and a decade later, the beautiful blend of theater, comedy, puppetry, and dance finds its way to Guthrie Theater‘s Dowling Studio, where it opened over the weekend.
Danny turns out to be more lover than fighter, as you learn through his encounters with lovely dancehall queen, Bella, who uses her fancy footwork to help him succeed in the ring. But she’s no stranger to the boxing world. She lost her brother to one of Buck’s schemes, and is determined to prevent Danny from the same fate.
The show is written, directed, choreographed, and performed by husband-and-wife duo Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan, resulting in a masterful production that fits them like a championship-winning boxing glove. Together, they tackle 14 roles during the 75-minute show.
Sostek delivers a knockout with his performance, which encompasses eight different roles. He abruptly jumps from character to character—but not with a mere change of voice or posture. He completely transforms every time. Whether he’s shadow boxing his own shadow as innocent Danny, or narrating puppet boxing matches as an old-fashioned commentator, he delivers fast-jabbing dialogue that keeps the audience smiling from the opening scene to the final bow. Then, beautiful McClellan swoops in and dazzles in dance sequences reminiscent of Fred and Ginger.
Trick Boxing’s earned acclaim at every stop of its 10-year run, and for good reason. It’s impossible to resist the feel-good brand of dance and humor, drama and love that this talented couple pours into their production. Catch it at the Dowling while you can.
The Guthrie through September 2
818 South 2nd Street, Mpls.