Escaped Alone

Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone is a play you feel rather than rationalise.  Half of the dialogue exists as fragments of the conversation in a back garden between four women, pared back and distilled to the essence of the four viewpoints.  And why not? Who ever remembers every word an actor speaks?  Mixing humour and lightness with depth and guilt, it’s disconcerting and disjointed during the performance and yet completely memorable after the event.

The other half of the play is woven around predictions of the future – pretty well in the form of computer algorithms that take our modern life and extrapolate without regard to the sense or the context.  ‘The chemicals leaked through cracks in the money’ and ‘the entire food stock of Newcastle was won by lottery ticket’.  Dystopian, in one sense bizarre, but just under the surface a sense that these could be very real predictions.

But perhaps the most unsettling are the temporal shifts. A woman enters a garden where three friends sit, because she hears talking.  Soon enough, the four women are all singing Da Doo Ron Ron as if it were a teenage memory. Long time periods condensed into the essence of the relationships?  Parallel universes perhaps?  Fragments of lives that exist independently?

Caryl Churchill paints a vision that is both very human and a highly digital version of our lives. A future condensed into codes, predictions and fragments of truth.  Powerful, disturbing but fragmented in every way.

Lowry Salford, 7 – 11 March 2017.

Photo:  Johan Persson

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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