A Kind of Alaska

by Harold Pinter

A Kind of Alaska had 3 performances over 5 years ago (between the 11th of October 2011 and the 6th of July 2012) at Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn, Riverside Arts Centre and Rhoda McGaw Theatre

A Kind of Alaska was inspired by Awakenings by the renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks. It was first performed in the Cottesloe Theatre in London in October 1982. The original cast included Judi Dench, Paul Rogers and Anna Massey.

A middle aged woman, Deborah, who has been in a comatose state for thirty years as a result of a contracting sleeping sickness, awakes with a mind still that of a sixteen year old. She must confront a body which seems to have aged without her prior knowledge or consent.

Her sister Pauline and Pauline’s husband Hornby, who has been Deborah’s devoted doctor over three decades and is more than a little in love with her, attempt gently to ease her back to her current reality.

Deborah reawakens to a changed world, attempting to take what to her seem to be rather shocking revelations in her graceful stride.

Deborah, revived from silence after 30 years, babbles on about her parents, her dog, her boy friend and the people in her life when she was 16 years old.

Once or twice she lets slip an erotic thought, at another moment she develops a Parkinsonian tic and begins to speak of walls closing in on her. She has, she says, been trapped in a vast series of glass halls, listening to a tap dripping endlessly, dancing night after night in the midst of crushing spaces.

A Kind of Alaska could be seen to be about the sorrow of growing old. For Deborah the past is not barren but packed with love, hope, clamour and life. It is maybe a metaphor for the feeling of “Where did the time go?” “What did I do while it was passing?” “Why did I make so little of it?”

Deborah ends the play with the ironic observation about her sister and brother in law that can only go so far towards accepting the realities that they have allowed her to know. She sums up the few facts she knows with poignant dignity. “I think I have the matter in proportion. Thank you!” It is a quiet, unpretentious tribute to human courage and resilience.

For a description of the characters, see under Cast below.

Original

Deborah - Frankie Godliman

Late 40s. Was a lively 16 year old and part of a close knit family when she fell victim to sleeping sickness. As she comes to life she gradually tries to adjust to the new world around her. She has a chirpy mischievious spirit inhabiting a mature body.She describes herself as having a laughing nature. As the walls of sleeping sickness close in once more we get a glimpse of the lonely hell that Deborah has been living in and a return to it is a horrifying sight.

Small1

Pauline - Caroline Ross

Deborah’s younger sister by 3 years. She says she is a widow in spite of marrying Hornby when she was 20. Her life has also been frozen. Coming to visit her sister for years, she has suffered for her and with her but never forsaken her. Part of a kind of love triangle from which there appeared to be no escape. Pauline and Hornby are stuck in a kind of no man’s land patiently tending Deborah with a kind of impotent anguish.

Small1

Hornby - Marc Anderson

(50s) A doctor who has watched over and nourished Deborah for 30 years and is more than a little in love with her. Very professional, calm and caring, he has woken her with a newly developed injection. He has charted Deborah’s every movement and never let her go. He has lived with Deborah for 30 years whilst being married to Pauline. There is a chilling distance between husband and wife.

Small1

Director - Judith Dolley

Person small1

Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

Small1

Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

Person small1

Lighting - Bill Payne

Small1

Sound - Ian Santry

Person small1

Lighting for Blackburn - Carolyn Menteith

Person small1

Sound for Blackburn - Julian Waller

Small1

Sound Track creation - Mark Humble

Runners Up Woking Drama Festival - 2011
Best Actress Frankie Godliman Woking Drama Festival - 2011
Best Supporting Actress Caroline Ross Woking Drama Festival - 2011
Technical Excellence John Godliman Woking Drama Festival - 2011
Winning Play Spelthorne & Runnymede Drama Festival - 2011
Best Actress Frankie Godliman Spelthorne & Runnymede Drama Festival - 2011
Best Supporting Actress Caroline Ross Spelthorne & Runnymede Drama Festival - 2011
Jane Walters Award for Best Director Judith Dolley Spelthorne & Runnymede Drama Festival - 2011
Irving Trophy for Best One Act Play British All-Winners Festival (BAWF) - 2012
Sydney Fisher Trophy (Backstage Award) British All-Winners Festival (BAWF) - 2012