The Alley Theater; directed by Jim Dougherty
At a Christmas Eve AA meeting, 11 alcoholics struggle to maintain their sobriety. One ragged newcomer looks like she’d like to scrape off her skin. Others are deeper in recovery or deeply grateful. Grab a cup of coffee and have a seat. There’s no intermission for two and a half hours of tortuous confessions, relieved by occasional, exceedingly welcome, humor. With Blackout, playwright Gary Lennon teeters on the brink of meaningful metaphor. The mirror he holds up is not for alcoholics only, but for anyone who has ever been filled with rage, fear, desire, loneliness or sorrow. Almost every monologue is independently gripping. Some overlap nicely, as with the aging widower who is envious of a rock groupie’s youthful sobriety. Director Jim Dougherty and his cast deliver deeply felt performances. Nancy Becker tops the list as a former model who recounts her reckless plunge as if she were describing a winning holiday table setting, before revealing the true depths of her despair. Unfortunately, Blackout suffers from excess: too many overly long monologues and too much voyeurism. Tales of drunks hitting bottom — waking up in their own filth or having sex with strangers and sometimes both — reinforce the image of a disease that belongs to others. Surely, there’s room for everyone in this club. Through Dec. 22; 317-926-8888.