Escaped Alone (Red Stitch) – theatre review

In Escaped Alone, society as we know it has fallen apart. Survivors are few. Four older women who are among the lucky ones reflect on times past over several summers … as the years run into one another.

Vi (Margaret Mills) went to jail for six years after killing her husband. Sally (Caroline Lee) has an irrational fear of cats. Lena (Marta Kaczmarek) struggles to leave her house. Mrs Jarrett (Julie Forsythe), a former lollipop lady, is the newest member of the group. Mrs Jarrett also serves as the narrator and I have to tell you that is the only really interesting part of the play, save for the pieced together components of Vi’s crime. Beyond that it was just terribly boring.

Photo: Jodie Hutchinson

Mind you, Mrs Jarrett’s description of what happened when the world was destroyed was engrossing. The imagery created bu British playwright Caryl Churchill’s words was extraordinarily vivid. Villages buried under hundreds of thousands of tons of rock, walls of water, whirlwinds that saw whole buildings transported, fire, explosions and extreme hunger. Descriptions of the devastation and its impact punctuate the ladies sitting on chairs in a tranquil garden setting discussing their lives.

Their conversation seemed like idle gossip to me. I just wanted to learn more about the dystopia. So, of the 55 minutes, I enjoyed about 10 or, at a stretch, 15.

Not surprisingly, I found Forsythe’s acting the most compelling. Set and costume designer Dann Barber has employed a split horizontal stage, representing above and below ground.

Directed by Jenny Kemp, Escaped Alone is playing at Red Stitch Theatre until 30 June 2019.

Alex First

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