From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Kind of Alaska is a one-act play
written in 1982 by Harold Pinter (1930–2008), the 2005 Nobel Laureate in
A middle-aged woman named Deborah, who has been in a comatose
state for thirty years as a result of contracting sleeping
sickness, awakes with a mind still that of a sixteen-year-old
teenager. She must confront a body which seems to have aged without
her prior knowledge or consent. Her sister Pauline and Pauline's
husband, Hornby, who has been Deborah's devoted doctor over these 3
decades and who may have fallen in love with her, attempt gently to
ease her back to her current reality, while withholding some of the
more jarring information. Deborah reawakens to a changed world,
attempting to take what appear to her to be rather shocking
revelations in graceful stride, but ends the play with the ironic
observation about her sister and brother-in-law that can only go so
far towards accepting the realities that they have allowed her to
know. Speaking of Pauline, Deborah states, bluntly: "She is a
widow. She doesn't go to her ballet classes any more. Mummy and
Daddy and Estelle [who are actually dead] are on a world cruise.
They've stopped off in Bangkok. It'll be my birthday soon. I think I
have the matter in proportion" (40).
According to his note in the published text, Pinter's idea for
the play was inspired by his reading of Awakenings, by the renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks (3).
A Kind of Alaska was first performed in the Cottesloe Theatre, in London, on 14 October 1982, as
part of a trilogy of Pinter's plays entitled Other Places.
The original cast included Judi Dench as Deborah, Paul
Rogers as Hornby, and Anna Massey as Pauline.
Harold. Other Places: Four Plays. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1984.
ISBN 0822208660 (10). ISBN 9780822208662. Print. [Also includes
One for the
Road, along with A Kind of Alaska, Victoria
Station, and Family Voices.]
- –––. Other Places: Three Plays (A Kind of
Alaska, Victoria Station, and Family
Voices). New York: Grove Press (An Evergreen Book), 1983.
Hardback ed.: ISBN 0394624491 (10). Paperback ed.: ISBN 0802151892
(10). ISBN 9780802151896 (13). Print. (Page references to the
paperback edition appear within parentheses above.) [A Kind of
Alaska appears on 1–40.]