Alaska (3 stars)

This article is from 2019


credit: Fotocad

An unconventionally staged autobiographical piece about living with depression

If the theatre maker sits among their audience for the bulk of their show, is the performance immersive for the audience, or is the performer immersed in the audience? In Cheryl Martin's solo piece about mental health, the theatre space is deconstructed into what looks uncannily like a support group.

Martin's presence is one that is totally devoid of persona. There is no pretence about what the space is, only that the audience are all there to hear her speak. Her autobiographical storytelling is characterised by anecdotes of tragedy, trauma and mistreatment delivered as untheatrically as possible.

Her monologue is not flourished with poetic conventions at all. By removing façade of artistic writing or staging she reveals something raw; which works to the show's advantage as well as its detriment. Martin pushes boundaries in how she uses the theatre space, but it leaves the audience without much to hold on to. There is no overarching message, and the occasional but minimal audience interaction is not in itself entertaining or thought-provoking. Alaska is best described as an exercise in theatrical honesty. For some the intimacy of the performance will be intimidating, but for others it will be illuminating.

Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 19), 2pm, £10 (£8).


  • 3 stars

Cheryl Martin Alaska is a funny, magical trip to the moon, with singing and dancing thrown in: one woman's extraordinary story of how she survived growing up with severe depression. A raw and powerful performance, with humour, heart and soul, with stunning vocals and beautiful imagery in the storytelling. With one in four…