The Sweet Science of Bruising
by Joy Wilkinson

About This Project

Photography from 2018 production at Southwark Playhouse view here


“When that bell rings, your life is entirely in your hands.”

London, 1869. Four very different Victorian women are drawn into the dark underground world of female boxing by the eccentric Professor Sharp. Controlled by men and constrained by corsets, each finds an unexpected freedom in the boxing ring. As their lives begin to intertwine their journey takes us through grand drawing rooms, bustling theatres and rowdy Southwark pubs where the women fight inequality as well as each other. But with the final showdown approaching only one can become the Lady Boxing Champion of the World…


Based on historical research into 19th century women’s boxing, The Sweet Science of Bruising is a fascinating new play by Joy Wilkinson (Verity Bargate Award winner and new series writer for Doctor Who). . Featuring an ensemble cast and thrilling up-close boxing matches, this is an epic tale of passion, politics and pugilism.


Reviews for The Sweet Science of Bruising at Southwark Playhouse:

★★★★★ ‘One of the best new plays I have seen in years… Wonderful.’ Neil Norman, Daily Express

★★★★ ‘A contender with guts and brains… Joy Wilkinson’s fascinating, full-blooded play… a knockout.’ Sam Marlowe, The Times
‘Thoroughly heartfelt, highly original and completely timely.’ Aleks Sierz, The Arts Desk
‘A startling, visceral account of early feminist struggles.’ Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub
‘The Sweet Science of Bruising is Joy Wilkinson’s ode to women everywhere.’ Amy Stow, LondonTheatre1


Fight and Movement Director:

Kate Waters


Lighting Designer:

Sound Designer & Composer:

Production Manager:




5 June - 29 June 2019

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