27 January 1990
Anna Massey, Carole Boyd and Harold Pinter
by Walter Acosta
be quite old. I wonder what I look like...I certainly have no intention
of looking into a mirror.'
When Harold Pinter wrote this play, he acknowledged his debt to
one of the most remarkable medical books of the '70s by Oliver Sacks,
about a mysterious epidemic that swept Europe and the United States
in the winter of 1916-17. A
Kind of Alaska is a fictional recreation of the case of a patient
who fell victim to the sleeping sickness when she was 16 years old.
The play provides another staring role for Anna Massey as Deborah,
who remains cut off from the world of consciousness for another
29 years. She is 'woken up' by Hornby, a doctor who married her
sister Pauline (Carole Boyde) but who has devoted most of his attention
to Deborah all these years.
The play describes in moving and powerful terms Deborah's painful
realisation that she had lost almost 30 years of her life and must
come to terms with her new reality. This production, directed by
Walter Acosta, features a rare and most welcome appearance of the
distinguished playwright Harold Pinter as Hornby.
London Calling, January 1990