New Room Theatre's production of Blackout, is on at Summerhall - Old Lab, from August 3 - 26 (except Mondays). 

Mark Jeary answers our Q&A.

  • What is your Fringe show about?

Blackout is a verbatim play, about five people in recovery from alcoholism:

  • The mother who finds herself urinating off the top of tall buildings in Edinburgh
  • The man who nearly burns down a stranger’s kitchen. 
  • The mother who almost beats her son to death. 
  • The guy who just wanted to die in his sleep as he didn’t have the bottle to kill himself.

Blackout is the honest, brutal, uplifting and darkly comic story of alcoholics, and ultimately of their hope in recovery. It’s scripted entirely from interviews with recovering addicts, including the writer. I’ve incorporated new stories with each new version. This year I brought in the stories of a Palestinian woman who found whisky, but lost everything. She doesn’t talk about Israel any more. 

At least she didn’t until last week, prompting a rewrite…

Audiences have usually found Blackout to be very powerful. Theatre-goers - particularly those who like new writing, have really enjoyed the piece. People in active addiction have told us they've found the show to be hopeful, those in recovery feel accurately portrayed and represented. Friends and family of those in recovery feel they understand their children, sister, brothers and parents far more than before. 

Blackout is different because it's socially engaged while still being an entertaining piece of theatre in its own right. It's changed lives, which we genuinely think is amazing, and why we want to keep doing it. Hopefully being part of the Made In Scotland showcase will help us take it further afield.

  • How many times/many years have you appeared at the Fringe?

I’ve appeared at the Fringe as a Stand Up comedian three times from 2010-2012, and as an actor on three occasions in smaller shows and New Room Theatre’s first in 2011 - Are You Happy Now, which was on opposite a pub miles away from anywhere. And people weren’t allowed to bring in their drinks

  • What’s your most memorable moment from the Fringe?

Flange Krammer’s penis stickers, and crying while eating a battered cheeseburger on the Grassmarket after a particularly bad gig. Actually the first time I arrived and saw Edinburgh for the first time. It had such a wonderful vibe. I fell in love with the city and moved there two years later.

  • What’s the worst thing about the Fringe?

Being a little older and not having the stamina that some of the younger folk have. Standing in the pouring rain. Flyering on Cowgate with trenchfoot is never fun. Fringe fatigue is awful, particularly when you’ve not had good reviews and you’re playing to an audience of three.

  • If you were not a performer what would you be doing?

In Edinburgh? Watching the shows, and being a little kinder particularly at free comedy gigs! But generally I’d probably still work at a bacon factory like I did in 1994. By now I’d probably have been promoted to sliced meats.

  • How do you prepare for a performance?

I meditate a bit but mostly I listen to disco. I like to feel confident when I go out. Particularly for Blackout. Even though the subject matter is quite intense, we do like to tell people stories, and engage with the audience. So disco gets me in the mood. That’s weird now I’ve typed it out.

  • Favourite thing about being in Edinburgh?

The fact you can go for a walk with tons of people, jump on a bus and in about half an hour be with no one. It’s so beautiful - the buildings, the shore, Cramond… and then you can get to see phenomenal theatre, so much stand up, have BRILLIANT food. I love the food, and the people are great. Apart from those that tut at you when you try to flyer them. On the mile. I mean what is that about? And I actually like the sound of seagulls at 4am.

  • What’s the most Scottish thing you’ve ever done?

A ceilidh on New Years Eve outside the castle. I now also get “messages” instead of shopping and have developed a burr. I can also spell ceilidh.

  • Favourite Scottish food/drink?

Steak pie, empire biscuits - but the home made ones, there’s a place in Govan in Glasgow that does amazing ones. I do like haggis but not with breakfast - that’s ridiculous. Oh and Stornaway black pudding is immense. I don’t drink (thus the play) but I do have a bit of Buckfast envy. I’d love to have tried that - although if I had I feel this play would be longer.

  • Sum up your show in three words

Hard-hitting, honest, entertaining.

Mark Jeary performs in New Room Theatre's production of Blackout, at Summerhall - Old Lab , from August 1 - 26 (not 2, 8, 13, 20). Suitable for audiences aged 16 and over.

For tickets, please visit

You can follow Mark Jeary and New Room Theatre on Twitter at @newroomtheatre and @emjay1970

You can also visit their Facebook page at and webiste at