Caryl Churchill’s play is an excellently crafted piece of theatre that takes normality, and interjects absurdity to create a performance that leaves you with a multitude of questions.
When Mrs Jarrett (Linda Bassett) stumbles across three other older ladies sat in the garden, having idle chat over a cup of tea, she is invited to join them. Interjected in the every day chit chat, the ladies discuss their deepest fears and painful pasts.
Caryl Churchill’s dialogue is faultless, she uses fragmented speech to create conversations. It is a simple, yet complex piece of theatre that is powerful in every way despite only being a mere 50 minutes long. The most absorbing moments being when Bassett steps out into the blackness, and talks poignantly about the apocalypse. She talks about her fears that famine will break out as people start “watching breakfast on iplayer.”
The language in the whole piece, but particularly Bassetts monologues are excellent. “Gas masks were available on the NHS with a three month waiting time.” Her words are coated with elements of humour yet make such an impact. Bassett’s evocations about this apocalyptic world are rich and and display the questions in her mind. This contrast to her manner in the garden is astounding and compelling to watch.
We are introduced to each woman, but see a deeper side of them as they break into a monologue that the other ladies can’t hear. Sally (Deborah Findlay) is a retired medical worker with an intense fear of cats, Lena (Kika Markham) is struggling to face the world and a trip to tesco feels like fleeing to South America and Vi (June Watson) killed her husband in self defence meaning she spent six years in prison and is struggling to catch up with what she missed.
Written with warmth, the women are intricately created yet so simply displayed. Provoking many thoughts and questions that will linger in your mind for days after, it is a strong example of flawless writing.
On at the Lowry until Saturday the 11th of March, tickets can be found here.