Through December 16, FUSIONnm.org, 505.766.9412, at The Cell

Three women sitting in a garden are happened upon by a fourth. They speak of ordinary things, have tea and biscuits, act out their anxieties, drink wine. Birdsong is remarked. Something terrible has happened, or will happen. The afternoon sun is exceedingly bright, but is that a good thing? 

Mrs. Jarrett (Laurie Thomas) is invited through a gate in the garden fence to join Sally (Elizabeth Huffman), Vi (Nancy Jeris), and Lena (Dodie Montgomery). They talk as women do, about family and friends, commonplace things and larger—life, madness, death. 

At first a puzzle, Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone ultimately doesn’t hinge on whether we unravel the mystery or not. There are clues: Sally is enormously afraid of cats and can imagine them everywhere, even inside the teapot; Vi has just returned from “away”; Lena is distinctly troubled.  And Mrs. Jarrett intermittently stops the action to recite the calamities and the absurdities of certain apocalyptic events. Have they already happened? That’s the way I read it. You’ll have your own theories. The thought of it is fascinating either way, pre- or post-.

You can solve the case or not. This one-act play runs less than an hour so you probably won’t solve it until you’re back at home, over-thinking and making yourself crazy. May I give you some advice? Just enjoy it. Director Jacqueline Reid has a distinct, womanly way about her craft that refreshes the ordinary actions of the play while explaining nothing. She allows us to experience it and take away what we will. I like that about her.

These first-rate actors make Escaped Alone exciting to watch. Unbothered by male company in the moment, they are unapologetically female. Their costumes fit their personalities, thanks to designer Ashley Miller. Whether trying to figure out what that shop on the corner used to be, or poking at each other to get a reaction, the initial trio seem to know each other very well. They welcome Mrs. Jarrett without question and take her prognostications (if that’s what they are) in stride. Within moments, she knows their general outlines, even if Mrs. Jarrett herself remains mysterious. (Why are they called by their first names, but she gets a title? Why is she wearing a raincoat? And what does Escaped Alone mean anyway? Oh, never mind.)

Just like life and plane rides, Escaped Alone offers up moments of normality interrupted by bouts of pure existential dread. Buckle up.

—Stephanie Hainsfurther publishes ABQArts.com.

All photos courtesy of FUSION Theatre Company.

The Fine Print

Performances sell-out quickly. If there is a performance you would like to attend but is listed as SOLD OUT, please call the box office at: 505.766.9412. All seating at The Cell is “first come/first seated”. Tickets are non-refundable. Late arrival (less than five minutes prior to curtain time) seating is at the discretion of the box office. If you require ADA seating, please make note of that in the appropriate space below. The Cell is equipped with a state-of-the-art assistive listening Audio Induction Loop System for the hearing impaired. All purchases include a $2.50 per ticket fee.