This review first appeared on North West End on 16 January 2021.
Donna Kay Yarborough’s monologue, Rosegold, is a startling story of alcohol addiction. It starts as a regular testament at a Zoom meeting of what seems to be a religious group for those with some sort of baggage, but takes a slowly disturbing turn as the story progresses.
Jamie is speaking from her porch, outside her home. Other than briefly introducing “Carrie”, who doesn’t speak and wears a mask to remind us of our current pandemic, she is on her own, sharing a story so bleak and horrifying it toys with the tropes we recognise from both the traditional Christmas ghost story and the type of horror film that includes “found footage”.
Far from being a simple tale of abusing the bottle, Jamie’s tightly wound personality takes us into a crime scene where she was the only survivor. A crime scene where she, being something of an unreliable narrator, may be telling us the truth, weaving a web of fantasy, or covering up something so terrible she could never come to terms with it.
There are no frills in this piece of digital theatre: it is a static talk to camera, but it has a great power in creating the images being described within the viewer’s mind. I could see the sights the child Jamie did when dealing with her father’s fondness for Southern Comfort, and I could see the group of adults whittling on their delayed school trip before disaster strikes. The words are well-chosen and a sense of unease builds throughout the piece.
Remember how you felt when you passed a car crash and had a strong desire to look, even though you knew you shouldn’t? Listening to Jamie’s recollection, with all its missing pieces and misremembrance, draws in the viewer, wanting to catch her out, to understand how that one event could have brought her to this level of indulgence and reliance on drink.
There are questions left unanswered, too, and the ending is open to conjecture. Ultimately this is a tale to address addiction in all its ugliness, as well as toying with the worst fears of those helpless on a video call. I was left wondering why no one disturbed Jamie’s story with questions or even expressions of disbelief or discord.
Roseland is now streaming as part of Online@TheSpace – for more information on the production, visit https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/rosegold and on Donna Kay Yarborough visit http://donnakayspeaks.com/