Drawn from writer and actor Mark Jeary’s interviews with recovering alcoholics and based on a few of his own personal experiences, Blackout strips away the ‘booze as poetry’ myth-making.
You can almost smell the piss and vomit. This is the throat-burning, pavement-hugging truth in all of its ugly, harrowing, occasionally surreal glory. Blackout tells stories of rape and the attempted murder of a child; it describes urinating from the top of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh and the twisted inebriated logic that might make someone attempt to microwave their sofa cushions.
Posturing with their mics like burnt-out rock stars at an AA meeting, the five barefoot actors – Jeary, Camille Marmie, Ben Clifford, Miriam Sarah Doren and Beth Kovarik – give voice to these marginalised, often misunderstood people. It’s all beautifully framed and directed by Paul Brotherston, with evocative soundscapes by Danny Krass, and Karen Batke’s pithy, sad voiceovers.
They’re all united by the bizarre lengths they went to in order to feed their addictions; all remained skeptical about 12 Step programmes until being actively forced to attend them.
With such red-eyed emphasis on destruction though, and no context about those interviewed (all are anonymous and remain so) it does become frustratingly hard to empathise. More insight on the things that led to recovery and the drying-out process itself would bring extra weight to the production.
As verbatim theatre goes though, it is compelling and vividly rendered, with Clifford’s gay man a soulful presence and Kovarik’s meditations on motherhood bringing sharp, haunting reflection to the debauchery.