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Escaped Alone

From 24 critic and 42 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Clever, Confusing, Funny

About the show

BAM presents the US premiere of Caryl Churchill's comically black look at the apocalypse, as four women chatting in a sunny backyard are interrupted by a series of bizarre disaster reports. More…

Three old friends and a neighbor. A summer of afternoons in the backyard. Lingering sunshine and inevitable darkness. Caryl Churchill, one of Britain’s most celebrated living playwrights, returns to BAM for the first time in 15 years with this humorous and profoundly unsettling daydream. 'Escaped Alone' is doomsday in a teapot, a calmly revolutionary vision of looming collapse.

Show Showdown

"Caryl Churchill's brilliant, bizarre, puzzling, horrifying, and strangely sweet 'Escaped Alone' packs the punch of a major dystopia into its lean 55 minutes...The production couldn't be better. All four actresses are wonderful, and Linda Bassett's chummy approach to stories of complete disaster is perfect. Director James Macdonald makes an ideal partner for Churchill in terms of economy, clarity, humorous horror, and brilliance...A concentrated marvel. See it if you can." Full Review

The New York Times

"A short and wondrous play that plumbs the depths of 21st-century terrors, large and small...Has the effect of a restorative tonic, and you may find a new bounce in your step as you leave it...No one in theater these days is better at exploding and reassembling traditional modes of language and storytelling...This magnificent writer’s latest variation on that form reaffirms such tales’ power to warm us even as they warn of the unspeakable dangers in the wide, dark world beyond." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The life Churchill depicts is as bleak as the form she employs is brilliant. In both, her economy is breathtaking; pretty much all that happens over the course of an hour is that four late-middle-aged English women sit yakking away a summer afternoon, or several afternoons, in a fenced-in backyard. It’s more than enough to gut you...Though some of this is quite funny, Churchill never condescends to her characters, nor does the superb cast." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Interruption and suspension are the texture of Caryl Churchill's latest play; the themes, appropriately enough, are loneliness and the end of the world. But 'Escaped Alone' still manages to be a floating, bewitching experience. It is gravely intended, but somehow nothing in it registers as weight...The atmosphere manages to stay light as a soap bubble, but Churchill's implications are devastating." Full Review


"‘Escaped Alone’ is elliptical, even cryptic, on the page. Macdonald and the four actors find rich meaning and vast emotion in the interstices of the playwright's lines....The play, at least as performed by the extraordinary Royal Court cast, is a Rorschach image ready to reflect any horrors or injustices festering in a spectator's imagination on a particular day as he or she contemplates this stunning production." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The outstanding play 'Escaped Alone' is a great compliment to the feeling that seems to be gripping society right now...The tragic mythology and facts of life that define their existences are the centerpiece of Ms. Churchill’s excellent play, calling upon the audience to investigate their own issues of aloneness...Their fabulous rendition of 'Da Do Ron Ron' is a moment not to be missed because it reminds us that there is always music." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"While the writing in 'Escaped Alone' is certainly gut-wrenching in its simplicity and precision, it is also deeply funny...It’s her skill with language that allows for so many interpretations...What makes the production so powerful is that director James Macdonald, along with his singular cast of four incredible actors, manages to bring Churchill's script to life in the clearest way possible." Full Review


"At 78, Churchill’s inarguably one of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, and this particular work, her newest, is funny, charming, and alarming, encapsulating an impossible amount into its brisk 55-minute running time...Exquisitely acted...It’s worth noting that simply writing a play featuring four women in their seventies without making it about their age is a reasonably subversive political act." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“A captivating exploration of friendship, isolation and catastrophe and even with its short running time, it is indeed satisfying…The piece holds us tightly. In the lighter moments we join in their backyard reverie, but it is in the darker moments where the richness in their vulnerability, defenselessness, and ruination are the most thrilling to witness...When Mrs. Jarrett finally bids adieu, we also must say our goodbyes. It’s joyous in that moment, and we owe that to the delicious work of a... Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Playwright Caryl Churchill excels in the unexpected. She experiments with format, regularly addressing issues of both feminism and out-of-hand power. Imagination conjures both worlds with articulate skill. The four actresses couldn’t be better. Each imbues her character with subtle attributes. Timing is impeccable, naturalistic focus complete. Director James MacDonald helms a splendid example of a symbiotic company." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The remarkable Caryl Churchill is offering her most devastating prophesy yet on the future of our planet. Called 'Escaped Alone,' it’s her latest, deadliest play...It’s one that creeps up on you, grabs you by the throat, and chokes you...A stellar quartet of veteran British stage and screen actresses lend both disarming comfort and frightening credibility to Churchill’s vision." Full Review


“There's a sense that there's a darkness underlying everything. This sense is only heightened as each woman, in monologue, describes a secret that darkens her life. The secrets are expressed so vividly that we are right there with them, feeling their internal claustrophobia as they wrestle with themselves. Churchill perfectly captures the roiling anxiety of our current strange days. Yet it's not a dismal play. The women are wry and funny and smart and tough.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The shuttle between light conversation and glimpses of the end of days, and between the surface conversations and darker interior monologues, could be jarring, but instead they balance and offset each other. And while all four performers are strong, Bassett in particular grounds the wilder stretches of this play, bringing pragmatism and dark humor even to the most grotesque of her own imaginings, coupled with a cheery obtuseness in the 'real world' sections of the play." Full Review


"Under James MacDonald's direction, the ensemble members are initially delightful, with their characters' complexities gradually seeping out though finely nuanced performances...Clocking in at less than an hour, Churchill proposes ideas and leaves audience members with sufficient post-theatre time to devise conclusions." Full Review

Time Out London

for a previous production "A menacing, joyous, brilliant return from the enigmatic Caryl Churchill…Whatever you think of it as a complete piece, line by line it’s hard to imagine you’ll come across a more brilliant play this year…The acting is wonderful, as are the characters...What makes ‘Escaped Alone’ a great play is that it is strangely euphoric: spiked with terrible, apocalyptic foreboding, yes, but Churchill’s funniest since ‘Serious Money’, and with an incredible gift for spinning light out of the dark." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production “This is fantasy intricately wired into current politics. It is intimate and vast. Domestic and wild. And it is a consequence of the marvelous, long-standing collaboration between Churchill and director James Macdonald...It is magnificent Bassett, one of our greatest and least anointed actors, who is the queenpin of the action…And she is bringing us the truth. This is a play that remakes the idea of authority." Full Review


for a previous production “'Escaped Alone’ covers a lot of ground, but its juxtaposition of afternoon tea and environmental catastrophe proves particularly potent, not to mention wryly funny…As idle conversation, it’s keenly observed — Churchill’s take on talk for talk’s sake…Churchill being Churchill, however, it’s slyer than that…As ever, Churchill writes with power-steering control. Each line earns its keep and each word goes to work…Director James MacDonald matches it for levity and potency." Full Review

The Independent (UK)

for a previous production “James Macdonald's superb cast beautifully negotiates the shifts between intimate small talk, moments of comically awkward failure to avoid the unmentionable and the bleakly intense passages of private reverie…Churchill's treatment of these women is infused with humor, warmth and precise observation…Churchill jumbles up our fears, fads and the lines we fake between man-made and natural calamity and pushes the result to a point of grotesque absurdity.” Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production “It packs an amazing amount into a modest frame…I find Mrs Jarrett’s speeches less effective as they go along...Although they are excellently delivered by Bassett without any coloring of hysteria, the law of diminishing returns sets in. The overwhelming strength of the play lies in its portrait of the women in the garden…This is Churchill at her best, observing with wry compassion how people actually talk. Macdonald’s production also brings pitch-perfect performances from all the women.” Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Caryl Churchill certainly keeps you guessing. You never know what's next. She follows her short triptych on mortality, ‘Here We Go,’ with a 55-minute dark black comedy – probably her funniest play to date…It's a joy to watch these actresses at work, and director James Macdonald applies the lightest of touches, so the lines seem to float on the air before crunching you in the stomach." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

for a previous production "A compact one-act affair that adds little to Churchill's reputation for stylistic innovation...All the same, this elegant ensemble piece is a charming blend of brevity and levity…Even within its concise running time, ‘Escaped Alone’ drifts a little…‘Escaped Alone’ is a minor late work from a major dramatist, but it still stands out as one of Churchill's funniest plays to date...Its message may be vague and insubstantial, but the all-female cast shares a warm, easy, engaging chemistry." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production “The interludes are disquieting but also more than a little absurd, funnier than they have any right to be. They’re delivered by the incomparable Linda Bassett, excellent as ever, a magnetic presence…She’s accompanied by Deborah Findlay, Kika Markham and June Watson, all also superb…The play as a whole is hard to get a grip on, it wriggles, it eels around the stage. But it’s also hypnotic. And kind of comfy. And distinctly odd. And sharp. Like an M&S cardigan with nails embedded in it.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

for a previous production "It’s the join between the play’s two halves that is more troubling – both interestingly and frustratingly so...Macdonald’s taut production at once maintains this ambiguity and gestures towards possible links…It’s hard sometimes to fight the suspicion that these are simply two interesting scenarios to riff on, and that the whole is given less attention than its (admittedly intriguing) parts. Nonetheless, 'Escaped Alone' is never less than watchable, thanks in huge part to its fantastic cast." Full Review

London Theatre Guide

for a previous production "I wasn't as enraged watching this as I was ‘Here We Go,’ but I wasn't engaged, either…Even though James Macdonald's precisely orchestrated production is played beautifully by a fine quartet of senior actresses who in addition to Bassett also include the estimable Deborah Findlay, Kiki Markham and June Watson, it's not a full or satisfying theatrical evening. At up to £35 a ticket, I suspect audiences are going to feel short-changed." Full Review

Genius, mind blowing, all round great talent

See it if u want 2 c Ms. Churchill's sublime use of language & magnificent storytelling soar with great acting, theatrical technique & direction

Don't see it if u r afraid 2 think/don't appreciate great writing/ don't want the privilege of seeing actresses in the evening of life perform impeccably

Masterful, Profound, Absorbing

See it if You are a Caryl fan, like me. A 50min full experience that stays with you well after the end of the show. So much heart in this show.

Don't see it if you have a mindset of having to understand everything. I had to really let this play just wash over me, even when I didn't understand it all

Also This play is about 4 retired women who sit in their backyard for 50 mi... Read more Read less

Great staging, Great acting, Dizzying, Clever

See it if you want to see an outstanding production of a great play. The set is superb and the acting is uniformly excellent.

Don't see it if you like more classical narrative driven plays. There is actually plenty of narrative here but it's all in characters' side remarks rather

Resonant, Profound, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if u are fan of Caryl Churchill this is up there with her best; u like her mix of puzzling and profound; like theater that takes u 2 new places

Don't see it if you don't like theater that is sometimes confusing, plotless, surreal or if you feel all's right with the world - this playwright does not.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intelligent, Intense, Great acting

See it if you enjoy dark humor and excellent writing.

Don't see it if you're looking for a show with a large cast, get lost in overlapping dialogue, or prefer feel-good shows.

Edgy, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Riveting

See it if experimental theater is your cup of tea, especially plays which expose what's troublingly bubbling right below the surface of convention.

Don't see it if you don't live in Brooklyn combined with a dislike of public transit or paying for parking.

Smart, Intelligent

See it if minimalist staging; witty and exquisite

Don't see it if you don't like sit-down-talking all the way through kind

Harrowing, Great acting, Funny, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you follow Caryl Churchill, enjoy quirky yet serious comedy mixed with dystopian points of view,

Don't see it if you don't enjoy talk of the end of the world or funny but banal talk of four women in a backyard

Funny, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if For something thought provoking and even challenging, the play is very entertaining. And quick--over in 50 minutes.

Don't see it if You like linear plays. This one doesn't tell you what to think as it leaps back and forth from a garden to dystopic scenarios.

Profound, Masterful, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you are willing to listen attentively to a beautiful, strange and complex text. You enjoy dark humor and non traditional plays.

Don't see it if you need to make sense of everything in a show; you expect a story-line.

Profound, Great acting, Great staging, Funny, Delightful

See it if After the "absurdist" non-connected dialogue starting off, I found the play very rewarding, if dark, perhaps even bleak. 4 superb perfs.

Don't see it if The joyful surprise was seeing Linda Bassett (Nurse Crane on CALL THE MIDWIFE) in person. I must get the script to read & recall.

Great acting, Ambitious, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You like or enjoy explorations in internal dynamics rather than straightforward plot.

Don't see it if You want a play that leads you through the normal developments and dramatic curves. This is out there and thought provoking in the abstract

Great writing, Great acting, Confusing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You're ready for a challenge. It's a super short play that is elliptical and confusing but also funny, moving, and daring.

Don't see it if You have no patience for this sort of thing. If you hate Samuel Beckett's work or want a clean and clear storyline.

Great staging, Great acting, Edgy, Dizzying, Absorbing

See it if you are a fan of the absurd. This post apocalyptic piece is smooth and polished but can be confusing. Churchill at her best.

Don't see it if stream of conciousness, absurdism is not your cup of tea

Funny, Great writing, Great acting, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy seeing women of a particular age reflect on life and it's complexities.

Don't see it if You expect great action or pageantry of theater.

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great writing, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if You're adventurous and want a challenging experience that will make you think about our anxieties - large and small. Innovative and adventur

Don't see it if You're looking for a traditional plot driven theater experience. If you want easily accessible. If you're looking for 2 hours +

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy poetic playwriting with unpredictable characters

Don't see it if you don't like constant zigzag cuts between 'realism' and brechtian telling up the wazoo

Subtle, Must see, Great writing, Great acting, Clever

See it if you want to leave trying to figure out what exactly the author was trying to provoke you to think, think about

Don't see it if If you want a longer play. It's a quick hour or so.

Interesting, absurdist & realist, short

See it if You will like a play that is part realist reflection on women's lives lived & part absurdist dystopian exploration. Well acted/well-staged.

Don't see it if You will be put off by strong Brit accents, a 50 minute long performance, or a play that is not easily "understandable" in a literal sense.

Confusing, Clever, Dark

See it if You love Caryl, obviously. You're willing to grasp joyfully for the text, hope to get as much as possible. It is very dark, and funny too.

Don't see it if You are not willing to work. It is hard to catch the meaning in an hour of sentence fragments in heavy British accent.

Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Clever

See it if Part post-apocalyptic tale (think Station Eleven); part chattering old folks in the garden. Funny, visual, memorable.

Don't see it if Probably a little half-baked. But charmingly so. Volume a little low, so I'd check about listening devices if hard of hearing.

Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you're interested in a play that deals with everyday worries and post-apocalyptic possibilities but is quite funny.

Don't see it if a 50 minute play about the above is not your cup of tea.

Great singing, Great acting, Confusing, Clever

See it if enjoy the puzzling and profound. Clever and insanely well-acted, it's sprinkled with dark humor. Also, very short.

Don't see it if don't like the abstract, need a clear resolution, prefer longer shows

Resonant, Relevant, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you like post-apocalyptic looks at humanity; it's really entertaining and thought provoking; excellent acting; but it is only an hour long

Don't see it if you want alot of action and plot; and want more than an hour show.

Entertaining, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if divinely creative, challenging playwriting is important to you; insightful, clever, demanding, subtle, superb actors.

Don't see it if you are looking for an easy well-made play that doesn't ask you to think.

Also A really exceptional 50 minutes of beautifully produced, directed, des... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (11)