Donna Kay Yarborough
Donna Kay Yarborough


Tales involving alcoholism tend to follow a well-trodden path. Shame-filled stories of how a pleasurable pastime turned into compulsion leading to redemption or destruction. Although Jamie, the central character, is a recovering alcoholic, Rosegold, written and performed by Donna Kay Yarborough, does not follow that route. It is, surprisingly, an utterly compelling horror story.

During lockdown Jamie is testifying, via the Internet, to a religious brotherhood about her alcoholism. The daughter of an alcoholic, Jamie stays well away from booze until a trip with friends turns into a bloodbath leaving them dead and Jamie traumatised. In the aftermath, Jamie turns to drink for comfort but is becoming aware the horror which descended upon her in the past might not have gone away.

Rosegold is not a conventional horror story; Donna Kay Yarborough is so confident, she even mocks the clichés of the genre. When Jamie describes the arrangements she and her friends made for a trip, she sighs and remarks, "Sounds like a horror movie." The closet comparison one can think of is the film It Follows in which a curse descends on an innocent group of friends.

Donna Kay Yarborough begins the monologue in a chatty, slightly nervous manner. Yet the deep concentration involved makes clear this is not a casual conversation. There is a hunted look about her—fixed smile and manic eyes—as if she is not so much unburdening herself as warning others.

The monologue is performed not as a confession but in the manner of Hamlet’s soliloquy. It is as though Jamie is only able to keep back rising hysteria by constantly re-thinking events and trying to make sense of something that is beyond understanding. There is a dark mood of seduction with Jamie recalling the intense ‘rosegold’ colours from the event and the sense of being violated.

The script is evocative. There is something of the alcoholic’s deceptiveness and tendency to minimise problems in Jamie’s cosy description of her boozing as ‘Southern Comforting’. Struggling to explain the supernatural creature she encountered, Jamie says she felt a ‘dark plurality’ and, although there was only one being, is compelled to use the pronoun ‘they’.

Rosegold is an intense experience and essential viewing.

Reviewer: David Cunningham

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