Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

Inspired by the homophobic comments made by heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, Gypsy Queen explores the ridiculously masculine world of professional sports.

It tells the unconventional love story of “Gorgeous” George O’Connell and Dane “The Pain” Samson. Two boxers who are on a collision course with their roots, identity, and each other.

Not only is their journey utterly compelling, it’s told without resorting to any of the usual cliches. In fact, this production surprises and delights at every turn, playing with our preconceptions of what it means to be a man, let alone a gay one.

Writer Rob Ward, who also stars, skillfully packs an incredible amount of story into just seventy minutes. What’s more, he’s wonderfully adept at using comedy to underpin the drama. One moment you’re howling with laughter, the next you’re breathless with emotion.


You can also expect a certain amount of nudity, and one rather memorable sex scene. All of which give this performance a feeling of grittiness. So while some productions never let you forget you’re in the theatre, Gypsy Queen quickly pulls you into the characters’ world.

Speaking of which, Rob Ward and Ryan Clayton not only play the lead roles, they also play all of the supporting ones as well. Of particular note, is Ryan as George’s Irish Catholic mother. Not only does he deliver comedic moments with real poignancy, he makes the c-word sound like poetry

In some instances, these talented actors seamlessly juggle up to three characters in the one scene. But thanks to their undeniable acting chops, and Adam Zane’s direction, the transitions are a thing of beauty.

Happily, this was the first show we saw at this year’s Fringe, making us instantly excited about the month ahead. With dialogue, performance and a message that’s truly inspirational, Gypsy Queen is the very definition of great theatre. See it before the month is up.


Gypsy Queen continues at the Edinburgh Fringe until August 26, then heads to:

Kings Head Theatre, London August 30 – September 23
Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – September 25 – 30


Read our interview with the cast of Gypsy Queen at  Otro Restaurant HERE.