YORK Theatre Royal played host to the award-winning double bill of Chapel Street and Bitch Boxer as part of Takeover 2013. Both productions emerged from the acclaimed Old Vic New Voices Edinburgh Season 2012 and prove the power of the spoken word without the need for extensive sets, props and big casts.

Scrawl’s Chapel Street follows Kirsty and Joe, two unrelated individuals whose night out on Chapel Street crashes them together in a melee of confusion, insecurity and regret.

Luke Barnes’s writing is astutely sincere and enhanced by the spirited and endearing performances of Nicola Coughlan as Kirsty and Josh Mayes-Cooper as Joe. Coughlan’s Kirsty is an ambitious yet self-conscious teen, whilst Mayes-Cooper’s Joe is an immature boy in his mid-20s desperately unable to own up to his own insecurities.

Barnes’ script is simultaneously hilarious, relevant and cutting and the action is fluid and intriguing thanks to Bryony Shanahan’s direction.

Snuff Box Theatre’s Bitch Boxer, also directed by Shanahan, is a one-woman show, written and performed by Charlotte Josephine. Chloe is an East London female boxer. While desperate to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, she is hit by a blow unlike any other – the death of her father. Unable to emote, Chloe focusses on her boxing, shutting everything else out.

Josephine’s performance is strong, energetic and steady, but ultimately vulnerable. Her writing is honest and, much like Barnes, manages to capture the voice of the British youth without being contrived.

Both plays are delightfully refreshing, hopefully a glimpse of things to come in British theatre.

Review by Stephanie Faye Bartlett