Escaped Alone – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

Writer: Caryl Churchill

Director: Joanna Bowman

Three friends and a passing neighbour sit and shoot the breeze in a suburban garden, but as it always is in the works of Caryl Churchill, all is not what it seems.

This deceptively domestic scene between these 70-something women unfolds into something far more disturbing and unsettling in both tone and subject matter.

There’s much chat of family, TV shows, and the decline of the UK high street – so far so normal, but these scenes of mundane normality are stopped in their tracks every few minutes as neighbour Mrs. Jarrett (Blythe Duff) steps to an elevated platform at the back of stage to deliver a series of startling monologues on the demise of the planet. Tales of flood, famine and fire. Horrors and atrocities almost beyond imagination.

Interspersed with Mrs. Jarrett’s outpourings are the personal stories of the trio of friends. Each dialogue reveals more than could ever be gleaned on the surface. One from a cat-phobic whose speech spirals into Dr. Seuss’s Sam I Am territory, one from a women forlorn, almost agoraphobic, one from a survivor of domestic violence with a shocking secret. There’s even a harmonious rendition of the Everly Brothers Bye Bye Love thrown in to the anarchy. There are fragmented ideas and the overlapping speech is wry and real. The half-finished sentences often used by Churchill to reflect naturalistic dialogue are successfully delivered.

The positioning of the ordinary beside the apocalyptic is Churchill at her finest. As director Joanna Bowman says about Churchill: “she has conceived yet another new mode of reflecting and refracting our world back to us”. It is blackly comic, a bit Black Mirror, deftly directed by Bowman and exquisitely performed on Anna Orton’s minimal set by the quartet of experienced actors. Blythe Duff, Anne Kidd, Irene Macdougall and Joanna Tope are an absolute delight. Macdougall’s monologue is possibly the shortest but the most affecting.

There’s much to applaud in this excellent production from both cast and creatives. It puts mature women front and centre stage and shows that there’s an audience for their voices. It manages to pack more impact into its trim 55 minutes than many twice its length.

Runs until 9th March 2014 | Image: Contributed

The Reviews Hub Score

Exquisitely executed

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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