Naked in Alaska
Redemption, addiction and pole dancing
This article is from 2014.
Valerie Hager’s autobiographical solo show takes in both the highs and lows of her career as an exotic dancer: the escape from a mundane life of abusive boyfriends and financial worry; the petty rivalries of the clubs that destroy friendships; and the gradual loss of self-respect and compassion that forces her to leave the industry. Hager’s performance is astonishing, capturing the personalities of her fellow strippers, clients and lovers in a few deft moves.
While Hager’s adventures are startling - and her charisma lends the monologue a joyous energy - but she emphasises her redemption and positivity at the expense of darker material. This ensures a dynamic thrust to the plot, but misses the dramatic tension that lurks behind her routines and travels. Stripping is not presented as a glamorous lifestyle, and Hagar takes responsibility for her choices, but the sudden shift into depression is abrupt and truncated.
Yet within a Fringe where stripping has become a hot topic, Naked in Alaska is a heartfelt, compassionate play, that reveals a warm humanity in place of the exposed flesh.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, 30 Jul - 25 Aug (Not 11 & 18), 7pm £10