Blackout

Blackout, written by Mark Jeary, is a compilation of several real life accounts of alcoholism which discusses both the addiction and recovery process. Performed by five actors, its tone is reminiscent of a support group. In this heartfelt and honest production, not much is left unsaid.

The two directors, Belle Jones and Joshua Payne, have clearly been careful to keep it authentic so that the performances and production do not overtake the content.

The delivery of each actor is peppered with stylised hand movements, which the other actors perform simultaneously with whoever is talking. Despite its effect of adding emphasis and showing their shared experiences, it is at first a bit difficult to follow and their movements around the small stage can be slightly distracting.

However, as the show progresses, it becomes much clearer when the actors speak for longer about their experiences. In addition to this, the characters’ stories run in parallel, beginning with each of them discussing how their addiction started. As well as talking directly to the audience, they also exchange gestures with each other and show interest in each other’s anecdotes. This creates a sense of unity and group support in a production that might otherwise have felt quite disjointed and detached.

The two directors, Belle Jones and Joshua Payne, have clearly been careful to keep it authentic so that the performances and production do not overtake the content. It is a difficult line, allowing the production a unique style to keep the audience engaged but also ensuring that the content does not get lost. In this case, the production is somewhere between the two. At times the anecdotes do feel a little too self-consciously ‘acted’ and the actors seem over-energised. An exception to this is Miriam-Sarah Doren, who seems the most natural in her role, particularly in her moving account of the difficulties her addiction caused in her relationship with her son.

Despite the ambiguity of the style of the piece, Blackout remains a very open and sincere production.

Reviews by Lottie Scaramanga

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

My first drink seemed to unlock something. I threw up, went home, woke up with a stinking hangover the next morning and thought, ‘that was fantastic, when are we doing it again?’ Blackout debuted at The Arches in Glasgow in 2013. It is an honest insight into drinking and recovery, made entirely from interviews with recovering alcoholics, including the writer. ‘Blackout is a great piece of work because it is both entertaining and important’ (Rob Drummond, award-winning playwright). 'Full of raw impact, hard-hitting and completely hilarious in parts' (Jamie, contributor).