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We’ve all done things we regret on a night out, but most of us probably haven’t found ourselves pissed as a fart, weeing off the top of one of Edinburgh’s tallest historical monuments, with no memory of how we had managed to clamber up there.
That’s just one of the troubling anecdotes delivered by the characters in ‘Blackout’. Writer Mark Jeary, who also stars, has collated the real experiences of recovering alcoholics and edited them into this hour-long play. Five characters relay their drink journey, from the moment they took their first sip, to the highs and the terrible lows of binging, to their decisions to give up and their struggles to stick with abstinence. The blackout stories – where the characters literally have no memory of the previous few hours – are the night’s hardest to hear.
Often what we’re told is shocking, including how one messed up woman took her hooch-induced anger out on her young son. The tales are uncomfortably easy to relate to and it’s often a jolt to see how far the sauce takes hold of these people – and that not everybody makes it back to dry land. But despite this, there’s not enough drama in the simple multi-monologue form. It’s very much like an energetic AA session.
Gavin Curtis’s bare production has the strong ensemble moving and weaving past each other onstage, interacting with looks and nods as they talk. There’s a good pace to the piece, although the several choreographed interruptions are a little baffling. They help to give variety to ‘Blackout’, but they sit oddly with the fairly straight text. It’s the stories themselves that make this an engaging night, best listened to without that pre-show pint.