WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Royal Court Theatre
WHEN: 3/2, running to 12/3
We first fell in love with Linda Bassett (pictured far left) in 1999 comedy East is East as an English mother married to a Pakistani Muslim and struggling to raise their family in 70s Manchester.
Here Bassett’s character Mrs Jarrett is our introduction to friends Vi (June Watson, who harbours a dark secret), Sally (Deborah Findlay, who fears cats) and Lena (Kika Markham, who isn’t well). The four gossip in a back garden and this is where Escaped Alone is at its strongest. When the four burst into an impromptu rendition of Da Doo Ron Ron there’s joy in the air and much laughter follows.
Less successful are the moments when Mrs Jarrett addresses us alone about an alternative world where food is scarce, the obese sell slivers of themselves and hungry people are given mobile phones showing cookery programmes to sate themselves.
Escaped Alone is 50 minutes long. At £35 a ticket, that’s 70p a minute but still this is a much more enjoyable watch than the two-interval The Master Builder currently playing at the Old Vic (which we saw before this) and starring Ralph Fiennes.
We’re not huge fans of author Caryl Churchill but applaud the decision, particularly after the intriguing Linda, to put on a show like this with such an experienced cast. Why shouldn’t the entire cast be female and quite probably in their 70s? Not for everyone of course, it’s very much love or loathe, but for us this is exactly the sort of inventive theatre we’d love to see a great deal more of.