Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts


By Caryl Churchill

Presented by Necessary Angel Theatre Company and Soulpepper Theatre

Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Set and costume design by Teresa Przybylski

Featuring: Clare Coulter, Kyra Harper, Brenda Robins, Maria Vacratsis

A first time opportunity to see a Caryl Churchill play in Toronto  is always a welcome opportunity. Escaped Alone (written in 2017 and first produced by London’s Royal Court Theatre) features 4 veteran Canadian actors; Clare Coulter, Brenda Robins, Kyra Harper, and Maria Vacratsis in a short ensemble piece (lasting 55 minutes) that is as pleasant to watch in performance as it is terrifying to contemplate when the play has ended and the playgoer retires for the night.

Not at all unlike Lucy Kirkwood’s, The Children recently produced (by Canstage), it is a play that captures the current zeitgeist and begins with the seemingly trivial and mundane while it builds toward the monstrous in its possible conclusion that includes commonly held memories between the women and startling references that may be biblical in their origin or contemporary in their detailed account of famine, murder, deprivation, pestilence and planetary catastrophe.

The four women play as if they are in a jazz ensemble each taking a turn at neatly coded phrasing before launching into longer solos that culminate in an actual musical rendition of Manfred Mann’s Doo Wah Diddy Diddy – a needed respite toward the end of the play that would have benefitted by a full throated a cappella staging in four part harmony from a quartet of actor/singers who were clearly up to the task. 

Make no mistake, these four British women are not your backyard garden gabbers having a spot of tea. They are the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse that Caryl Churchill has unleashed upon us. Now they are heading straight toward us all with a message we need to hear.

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