Beautiful and emotive, Psycho Vertical explores the intricate mind of Andy Kirkpatrick, a world-class climber and alpinist who lives a life of conflicting desires, identities and responsibilities, inspired by his best-selling autobiography of the same name.
Firmly grounded by his impoverished upbringing in 1970s Hull, from a young age Andy’s head has been in the clouds, filled with grand ideas of discovering who he is and what exactly he’s made of, spurred on by his father’s absence and translated into ascents of some of the world’s most dangerous alpine routes.
Though he knows the pain of living in poverty, pursuing his dreams comes before making a living. While compelled to share his chaotic personal life and make audiences crumple with laughter on stage, he chooses to test himself on some of the world’s longest and most difficult climbs totally alone.
A proud father, he cannot help but put ambition over security, even if that means risking his life time and again. By exploring his past, his present and his motivation for pushing his limits to the absolute extreme, we follow Andy on an 18-day, solo ascent of El Capitan, where life on the wall is precarious, tough and ‘crushingly lonely’, creating a raw and intimate portrait of one of climbing’s most controversial, unpredictable and adored figures, and exploring themes of identity, fatherhood, and how our pasts shape us, drive us forward and stays with us all our lives.
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MEET ANDY KIRKPATRICK
Andy Kirkpatrick never takes an ordinary path. Whether it’s risking his life as a mountain climber — once while climbing the Troll Wall in Norway, he waited to die while a “car-sized flake” he was standing on moved a few centimetres before stopping — or the route he took to hook up with his wife, Vanessa.
“I was invited to speak in Dublin,” he says. Bear Grylls was also invited, but Kirkpatrick was far more affordable.
“I only charge €1,000 so I got the gig. I ended up getting married to the woman who invited me to speak at the university. It was a good gig. Basically, I didn’t go home again. I’ve stayed ever since. It’s Bear Grylls’ loss.”
Andy has been touring his mix of comedy and motivational speaking on the perils and rewards of mountaineering to theatres since 2006. When he’s not on the theatre circuit or hiking across some of the most forbidding landscapes on earth, he picks up some unusual commissions. He once spent two months working as Johnny Depp’s “chocolate safety diver” during the 2005 re-make of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.