Blackout @ Summerhall

Mark Jeary’s Blackout is a powerful reflection on various facets of alcoholism

Review by Clare Sinclair | 14 Aug 2018

Alcohol Focus Scotland suggest that one-in-four people drink at hazardous or harmful levels (more than 14 units per week) and it’s recently been suggested that our own GPs are doubling the alcohol units we claim to consume because we’re just not honest enough about the amount we drink. 

Mark Jeary’s Blackout is about the descent into alcoholism and the effect on different people. All anonymised, we hear from each one at differing stages of their sobriety; the newcomer to the Fellowship all the way through to the ‘Old Timer’ (played by Jeary himself) and how they’ve found help, frustration and friendship. It’s brutally honest about the effects alcohol had on these people – taken from accounts from real people in recovery – and shines a light on the highs and lows of a life controlled by alcohol. 

Jeary’s writing – showcased by Paul Brotherson’s direction – doesn’t pull any punches in a performance that’s gripping, hard-hitting and touching all at once. In a culture where drinking is normalised and sobriety is seen as ‘boring’ it couldn’t be more relevant. 

Each story we hear wildly differs from each other. We hear of a mother drinking to ‘fit in’. She is, in some ways, worlds apart from the young man drinking on the party circuit, yet they’re linked by their need for the chaos, for the solace alcohol gave them.  Blackout casts a mirror back at us while showing that there is no stereotypical image of an alcoholic. And in doing so shows that sobriety doesn’t need to be the boring option.

Blackout, Summerhall, (Old Lab), 3-26 Aug (not 8, 13 & 20), £12-£10

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