Here live the "official" reviews and testimonials: from print media and from fellow professionals. They are an honor to receive, and they are shared with gratitude.
...Yarborough can whip up a sense of fun, keeping the crowd under her spell. --MATTHEW J. PALM, ORLANDO SENTINEL
...a serious tour-de-force performer. --Road to 1000
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© 2021 British Theatre Guide
Rosegold [ONLINE] by Nico Marrone19 January 2021
An enthralling exploration of the horrors of addiction and trauma “We all have our reasons for drinking: Something haunts us all”. So professes Jamie, a recovering alcoholic, in Rosegold, Donna Kay Yarborough’s testament to addiction. As we will soon discover, however, some people’s reasons are far more sinister than others. Framed as a virtual meeting of an Alcoholics Anonymous-style group via Zoom, Jamie introduces herself to the rest of the group (the audience) for the first time. Steadily, she opens up about the source of her addiction, the traumatic cycle she exists within, and the impact that both have had on her life and relationships. It’s a heartbreaking and tragic testimonial, and one not entirely unfamiliar to anyone that has known someone dealing with such issues.Jamie is perfectly candid in her testimony, never shying away from admitting hard truths. She is the self-admitted anti-hero here, and openly declares that “smartass is my default setting, it’s what I do when I’m scared”. As is quickly revealed, she has every right to be afraid. In its discussion of the veils that people wear to disguise themselves in daily life, Rosegold quickly drops its own; revealing that behind an exploration of addiction is a stirring and compelling horror production. At the heart of this is Yarborough’s own performance as Jamie. Her subtle ticks – glances off-screen to her socially distant sponsor, constant sipping from a coffee cup – and small gestures make for thrilling viewing despite the mostly static framing. It also gently teases what is to come, with Yarborough building in intensity as she becomes increasingly frantic. Likewise Yarborough displays a masterful use of language throughout, with Jamie almost slipping into poetic soliloquy as she recounts the horrific event that kickstarted her addiction. That said, this also means that any jarring moments are all the more noticeable, namely in the use of the neutral “they” to describe the “Dark Plurality” that haunts Jamie. No matter the circumstance – eldritch or not – “they’s approach” is inherently jarring. In some ways this works though, as this unknowable Lovecraftian entity is a break from normality, and so too is the language that refers to it.The fact Rosegold is filmed outside on a porch in one continuous take does mean that the external noise of motorbikes speeding past filters in, breaking the pacing somewhat, but never enough to detract from the performance. In fact, Yarborough handles these moments with aplomb, highlighting the strength of her own abilities. Overall, Rosegold is an enthralling work that successfully blends Lovecraftian terror with the everyday horrors of addiction. Simple in its execution, but with far greater depth than one might expect, Yarborough proves herself to be a masterful writer and performer with a great deal of promise. 4 STARS
Donna Kay Yarborough’s monologue, Rosegold, is a startling story of alcohol addiction which starts as a regular testament at a Zoom meeting of what seems to be a religious group for those with some sort of baggage but takes a slowly disturbing turn as the story progresses. Jamie is speaking from her porch, outside her home. Other than briefly introducing “Carrie”, who doesn’t speak and wears a mask to remind us of our current pandemic, she is on her own, sharing a story so bleak and horrifying it toys with the tropes we recognise from both the traditional Christmas ghost story and the type of horror film that includes “found footage”. Far from being a simple tale of abusing the bottle, Jamie’s tightly wound personality takes us into a crime scene where she was the only survivor. A crime scene where she, being something of an unreliable narrator, may be telling us the truth, weaving a web of fantasy, or covering up something so terrible she could never come to terms with it. There are no frills in this piece of digital theatre: it is a static talk to camera, but it has a great power in creating the images being described within the viewer’s mind. I could see the sights the child Jamie did when dealing with her father’s fondness for Southern Comfort, and I could see the group of adults whittling on their delayed school trip before disaster strikes. The words are well-chosen and a sense of unease builds throughout the piece. Remember how you felt when you passed a car crash and had a strong desire to look, even though you knew you shouldn’t? Listening to Jamie’s recollection, with all its missing pieces and misremembrance, draws in the viewer, wanting to catch her out, to understand how that one event could have brought her to this level of indulgence and reliance on drink. There are questions left unanswered, too, and the ending is open to conjecture. Ultimately this is a tale to address addiction in all its ugliness, as well as toying with the worst fears of those helpless on a video call. I was left wondering why no one disturbed Jamie’s story with questions or even expressions of disbelief or discord.
Reviewer: Louise Penn Reviewed: 16th January 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★
Rosegold/Good Enough (Online review) by John Chapman
[...] Rosegold takes the form of an online AA meeting where Jamie finally decides the time has come to reveal her story. When she does so it is not quite the one which might be expected. True enough she comes from a family where one of the parents is addicted and she ultimately follows in his footsteps. For most of her young life she has resisted the blandishments of alcohol under the twin duress of seeing her father regularly drunk and her mother berating him for that fact. But then one night she and a group of colleagues decide to go on a camping expedition after which things are never quite the same. The big change in her attitude is all the result of a terrifying incident which takes place in the forest late at night. Suddenly a somewhat predictable tale about the onset of addiction becomes a modern horror story with a paranormal element. Donna Kay Yarborough both writes and performs as Jamie and holds the attention despite very simple staging and camerawork. She has a canny knack of telling a tale which both draws you in and repulses in equal measure and the sense of horror becomes palpable, enhanced by some telling sensory detail. This is particularly true of the colours enshrined in the title, though not wishing to give the game away I can say no more here. As Jamie tells her story, Yarborough becomes increasingly haggard and distraught (understandably) and does so without recourse to make up or lighting changes – she is clearly in full command of her material and gives a mesmerising performance. Although probably far removed from anything that could happen in the UK, this American tale may send you to bed with the horrors – both of the unknown which is in the darkness and that which constitutes addiction. [...]
Review by Terrance McArthur
A horror story at the Rogue Festival. We’ve seen Rogue horror shows before, shows that have us shaking our heads as we leave…but a real horror story? An experience that lowers the room temperature and raises goosebumps? Do you wanna get scared? (reviewer grins slyly) Donna Kay Yarborough is a chameleon-like entertainer who can slide from a blithely oblivious country-western singer to a sex-swapped Frank Sinatra to an Appalachian witcher-woman with ease, bringing laughter and thought to Fresno audiences. Last year, she brought a newborn project to the Rogue, and she returns to the Pandemic Virtual Rogue with a fully developed version of Rosegold, a gently escalating exercise in horror that stands in the ranks of H. P. Lovecraft, Rod Serling, and Stephen King. Picture a virtual AA meeting. A woman introduces herself as Jamie, an alcoholic. She tells the group about her pathway to addiction, and drags us with her down a rabbit hole littered with dead bodies, mountain lions, creatures that aren’t supposed to be seen, how she survived a massacre…and how a part of that seemed to follow her. Yarborough is earnest, engaging, and EEEEK! Yeah, this show is creepy. Let it creep up on you Sunday, March 14, at 6 p.m.
‘ROSEGOLD’ (6 P.M. SUNDAY)
Donna Kay Yarborough’s “Rosegold” takes a mountain-lion-sized bite out of the personal-trauma formula of so many solo fringe shows I’ve seen. Hey, I’ve seen some good shows by people who have overcome 1) alcoholism; 2) drug addiction; 3) religious indoctrination; 4) obsession with Cabbage Patch dolls, etc. But the trajectory of those shows is often the same: Set the scene (which usually includes crappy parents), detail the breaking point (ending up in a hospital or setting your dolls on fire), and find the road to redemption (sobriety, a Netflix series, collecting bobbleheads instead).
Yarborough, a longtime Rogue performer and a very good writer, does something different with this piece, however: She gets creepy. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that Jamie, the alcoholic telling her story, is drinking for reasons that are not commonly talked about in a Twelve Step meeting.
I like the details that Yarborough brings us: the images of ice cubes clinking, of a plastic chair by a pecan tree, of a daughter-father relationship that thrives on dysfunction and, yes, love. At one point, Jamie tells us about another character that gives her a look she describes as the way someone would acknowledge a pet or child they have absolutely nothing but indifference for. That line gave me the chills. If you’re looking for some darkness in your Rogue experience, this one’s for you.
"Diagnose This! Tales of a Medical Actor"
Vancouver Fringe Festival review: Diagnose This! Tales of a Medical Actor by Andrea Warner on September 4th, 2019 at 2:14 PM
Donna Kay Yarborough has been an improv comedian for 25 years and she’s a commanding presence. Taking audiences inside the American health-care system from such a specific perspective—her day job is playing patients for med students in Portland—is brilliant. Some of the jokes and wordplay in the first half of the show—“You’ll feel a little prick”—are too easy, but Yarborough has this Jane Lynch quality to her delivery that makes them more tolerable. What’s infinitely more interesting is Yarborough’s observations about what she and other standardized patients really do: they teach the med students to “speak human again.” This is a show about compassion, humanity, and dignity, and how extreme capitalism is killing people. It’s a timely message for all of us, no matter what our field of practice, and Yarborough does a great job of pivoting from hilarious to heartfelt in the space of a few simple words.
Check the Program on Facebook Fringe review: “Diagnose This!” **** (4 stars)
When it comes to weird acting jobs, being a “standardized patient” must be near the top of the list. But as veteran improvisor Donna Kay Yarborough recounts in this mix of monologue, improv & impassioned manifesto, it’s also the most rewarding job—and the finest acting—she’s ever done. Filled with true-life (and often cringe-worthy) stories about her intimate “face to place” experiences with medical students, this is fast-paced, funny and fascinating stuff; being an American, however, not all of Yarborough’s jokes work for Canadians, and the show does end on a very serious note—but it’s worth seeing simply for the visceral reaction she gets. If you’re squeamish about body talk, medical details or gynecological insights, this may not be the show for you; but it is ideal for anyone who has ever had to grapple with insensitive doctors, the medical system or personal illness. It's said that laughter is the best medicine; this show proves it right. —JT
Monday Magazine Diagnose This! Tales of a Medical Actor – Donna Kay Yarborough
Who knew there was such a thing as a standardized patient? Yarborough describes the job in great detail, sometimes in ways not for the squeamish, such as when she has her “pelvic region” examined. Her dedication to helping new doctors learn bedside manner and communication is admirable, but her stories about her experiences working with green and often terrified students is hilarious. Her delivery and wit are razor sharp and she makes those topics that don’t usually make the dinner table conversation seem somehow more palatable. A bad personal experience related to a prolonged health diagnosis led this longtime actor to the standardized patient job, a finale which leaves the audience with food for thought and respect for her mission.
***** (5 out of 5) – Don Descoteau