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On the Ropes

By Vernon Vanriel and Dougie Blaxland

Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour

Jamaican roots. Home turf. Don’t give up the fight.

Pulsating with the rhythmic energies of blues, reggae and boxing, On the Ropes is an uplifting musical drama telling the extraordinary story of Vernon Vanriel who arrived in Britain aged 6 with his family as part of the Windrush Generation, and rose to prominence as one of the most charismatic and influential Black British boxers of the 70s and 80s. 

In 2005, having lived in North London for over 40 years, Vernon found himself trapped in Jamaica, and in a bare-knuckle fight for his right to citizenship with the British Home Office.

In an energetic fusion of live music, humour, poetry and the duck and weave of the boxing ring, On the Ropes is a celebration of Vernon – aka The Entertainer – and, ultimately, of how courage, dignity and a fighting spirit can triumph over prejudice and injustice.

“Stunning” Beverley Knight 

★★★★★ “It movingly mixes poetry, dance, drama, brilliant live Reggae and Blues music that demands the audience join in, and some wonderfully raw humour” Ham & High

“Knock out performances from a committed cast and lots of lightness and laughter despite a harrowing story” Tori Allen-Martin 

★★★★★ “Powerful. Intelligently directed by Anastaisa Osei-Kuffour” Islington Gazette

★★★★★ “Profoundly moving" North West End

"Truly exceptional, I was blown away!” Amelia Gentleman 

★★★★★ "A sweeping production" Plays to See

★★★★1/2 “This is such an important story, and such an important play, and I really do implore everyone who can to head to Park Theatre and see it" The Black Project

“Who needs Golden Globes, when you can see this new play?” Michelle Collins 

★★★★ “Buoyed by three superb performances, Anastasia Osei-Kuffour’s high energy production dances as if to the beat of a Reggae tune” Reviews Hub

★★★★ “A howl of defiance. The audience were enthralled throughout” Everything Theatre

★★★★ “A production worthy of a boxer known as 'The Entertainer'" London Living Large

★★★★ “Captivating. The cast had us engrossed with passionate performances.” Lost in Theatreland

★★★★ “Innovative, frustrating, emotional, and celebratory” Lou Reviews

Supported by Arts Council England, The Leche Trust, The Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust, The Austin Hope Pilkington Trust, and The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation.

The Production Exchange (TPE) combines producing a broad portfolio of work across the Arts and Entertainment industries with an artists’ management agency. Recognised for championing early-career artists alongside more established Performers, Writers and Directors, TPE advocates for the progression and visibility of practitioners of diverse heritage and ability. In particular, specialising in working with d/Deaf, disabled, trans and gender-fluid artists.

Established in 2013 by Colin Blumenau, formerly Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds 1996–2012, TPE is Chaired by Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, currently the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. TPE endeavours to uphold the social value of the Arts, delivering high-quality professional development and pastoral care, to empower generations of creative practitioners to celebrate bold, imaginative storytelling for a diversity of audiences. More information can be found at


Artwork: Studio Doug

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Nicole - Jocelyn Jee Esien
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Sound Design by Steve Bond
Sound Assistant: Makashe Ogbon
Assistant Producer: David Gilbert
Production Manager: Sarah Tombling
Executive Producer: Polly Thomas
Series Producer: Gill Parry

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