Escaped Alone

I came very close to adding Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill to my BAM subscription this winter but in the end, it did not make the cut (I had to be very selective at the time.) Luckily, my friend Rebecca ended up with an extra ticket and I had the privilege of seeing this terrific play after all. I thought Churchill’s work was new to me, but I realize that years back, I saw Top Girls performed in Manhattan, although I can’t remember when or where. Escaped Alone was a smaller gathering of women — none of them famous historical figures, and there was no dinner party — but the layers of existential experience (both spoken and “unspoken”) in the air during this seemingly everyday chat among four women in a backyard made for an equally powerful evening of theater. The quartet of women from the Royal Court Theatre were fabulously believable as British ladies, somewhere around 70 years old, with complex inner lives. I especially enjoyed the dialogue. It was written how we really speak. Half sentences. Words trailing off … Beating around the bush — then suddenly shockingly direct. The inner dialogue was fascinating, reminding us that we never truly know what another is thinking. In the background of this lovely chat in the waning afternoon sunlight is the inevitable ending of life as we know it. No matter how we each imagine (and fear) the final days or our own demise, it is always there — sometimes a vague and freeform anxiety, sometimes imagined in minute detail. Whether we are aware of it or not, terror lurks below our conversations and below our most intimate thoughts. It is our constant companion — and is, perhaps, a little closer to the surface these days.

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