SALT LAKE CITY — Written and performed by Hailey Henderson, Blackout is a compelling, funny, and thoughtful journey of a woman finding her individual identity unapologetically. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, Blackout is fast-paced and enjoyable, with a strong message of women’s rights: the right to be herself, the right to live her life, the right to not be held responsible for becoming the victim of sexual and emotional abuse.
Henderson is an animated, high energy, and dynamic performer. Henderson takes the audience back to her graduate school days in Seattle, where she unfortunately has a stalker. This one-woman, one-hour production tells of how she finds comfort and safety in another man only at the expense of herself. With twists and turns and lessons learned, Henderson’s captivating delivery has themes of blackout (losing oneself and individuality) and sunflowers (individual prosperity and growth).
Henderson’s timing is exquisite. She is a funny yet serious storyteller, giving a pregnant pause when needed after dropping a bomb of a revelation in the story. I enjoyed the sound design that accompanied Henderson’s bubbling delivery, her embodiment of other characters in the story, and her movement around the small stage.
Best of all, I enjoyed the message and the script itself. Henderson repeatedly tells herself, “I’m crazy” as an excuse to each escapade as they arise. Other characters in the story suggest that she may have acted in a way to entice or deserve the abuse of the men in her life. She correctly reaches the revelation, “I can blame him.” Henderson demonstrated that she values her individuality and her passions and that they are not temporary whims that can and should disappear once her life is “validated” by a man.
Blackout is absolutely worth seeing. Not only is it an hour of riveting entertainment, but many audience members will learn something. I left with a bright energy and a strong sense of empowerment, like a sunflower.