ESCAPED ALONE by Caryl Churchill is the first production I’ve seen in The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London.

In London for a committee meeting of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I was able to find a free evening and what a great experience it was. The Royal Court are trying out a short menu of ‘Boards’ for after the performance, so when it’s short or you were short of time getting to the theatre, then there’s a ‘board’ of cheese, charcuterie, smoked fish, or humus to calm that rumbling tum. My companion and I shared a cheese and smoked fish selection.

But you’re wanting to know about ESCAPED ALONE, not what I had for my tea.

The play by veteran writer Caryl Churchill is directed by James Macdonald and features four actresses with impeccable cvs. Linda Bassett, Kika Markham, June Watson and Deborah Findlay. Three of them are drinking tea in a garden when the fourth peeks in and is invited in. Four tales of life in its diverse experiences unfold for around fifty minutes.

So, I’m a little conflicted. Was the play so subtle, I won’t get it until it wakens me in the night some time later, or is it simply a homage to the achievement of survival? The performances were superb. The set great, although I could have done without the flashing light border. The fourth woman also acts a narrator and steps away from the garden to perform long speeches full of apocalyptic horrors – also at times very funny. These out-takes are when the stage is kept black but a surround of flashing red light created.

ESCAPED ALONE (the quote is attributed to the Book of Job and Moby Dick) does, however, stay with you and perhaps that’s its strength. Has the woman across there murdered her husband? Does the woman behind the curtains have agoraphobia? Why are cats terrifying? What caused the terrible rage? It makes you look again at those around – and wonder.

Run continues, Royal Court  Jerwood Theatre downstairs till 12th March

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