Blythe Duff, familiar to Australian audiences for her long-running role as Jackie Reid in cop drama Taggart, heads to Australia next year to appear in the hit UK production Beautiful Burnout, a raw, thrilling examination of the world of boxing.

However, Duff assured the Star Observer she wouldn’t be throwing any punches in the piece.

“I don’t have to do any of the hard work — I leave that to the younger company members,” she said. “I’m mostly on stage on my own, playing an upfront single mother who’s the mum of one of the boxers, so I get to address the audience directly a lot.”

Duff’s character acts as a conduit for the audience into the working-class and often brutal world of boxing. It’d be fair to assume your average Sydney Festival theatregoer may not have had much exposure to boxing, but Duff said she could see parallels between the two worlds.

“Watching a boxing match live, and getting caught up in it, it’s very theatrical — an audience can be uplifted and all react to something at the same time. That’s the closest thing to theatre you’ll get.”

Being theatre, though, Beautiful Burnout’s fit young cast are all choreographed to the nth degree to prevent broken noses and cauliflower ears derailing the season.

“The show’s got a beautiful, mesmerising quality to it, because of course it’s all planned out so no one hurts each other. The skill and expertise required of the performers is extraordinary.”

INFO: Beautiful Burnout, Seymour Centre, January 18 – 29. www.sydneyfestival.org.au

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