Escaped Alone – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

In a lovely English garden filled with an array of vibrant greenery, three friends gather for a cuppa tea, to chat about everyday matters they share. This is, however, no simple tea and sympathy party. It is much more like tea and terror when a fourth neighbor intrudes herself in their midst. The mundane suddenly becomes menacing: talk of tables and teapots, mathematics and moron jokes, birds and body parts, careers and cats, is interrupted by an explosion of lights as LaTonya Borsay’s Mrs. Jarrett prophesies about floods, famine, fires, fatal illnesses, and all matter of pending catastrophes. She interrupts the casual conversation with eye opening truths about the world, observations we can’t ignore or hide from, realities that demand we pay attention to at our own risk. As if it is not enough for each of these women to cope with their intimate world, they must arm themselves, like a superhero, to confront issues they would much prefer to close their eyes to every day.

For almost one spellbinding hour, famed playwright Caryl Churchill holds sway over Yale Repertory audiences as she unrolls her version of a future apocalypse in her drama “Escaped Alone” playing its mind games until Saturday, March 30. As these women of a certain age, seventy and above, converse we learn a lot about their lives, as hairdresser and murderer, as fearful of felines, as someone who prefers isolation to companionship, and of caution and concern for what the future holds in store for us. As they sip their tea, they finish each other’s thoughts as only good pals can do. They are smart and funny, sad and wise, regretful and forgetful, and ready to support each other when called upon to do so. Their group rendition of “Hit the Road Jack” is a pure delight.

Come make the acquaintance of Mary Lou Rosato’s Vi, Sandra Shipley’s Sally and Rita Wolf’s Lena, in addition to Mrs. Jarrett’s Angel of Doom’s LaTonya Borsay and discover for yourself who these unique women are and what you have to learn from them. Liz Diamond ignites her special directorial powers to make sure you will not soon forget Caryl Churchill’s cautionary tale.

For tickets ($15-65), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at Performances are Tuesday to Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

If an apocalypse, one or more, is on the horizon, what can each of us do to ward it off and preserve the world? Let Caryl Churchill brew us a cup of dark tea, filled with sweet sips and a bitter aftertaste.