Far Away by Caryl Churchill. The Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, London WC2H to 1 April 2020. 4****. William Russell.

Far Away
By Caryl Churchill
The Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, London WC2H (LK to 4 April 2020.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 40 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 020 3282 3808
Review; William Russell 15 February.

AT 40 minutes long this revival of Caryl Churchill’s play could be seen as scarcely value for money, but director Lindsay Turner has brought this tiny and devastating horror tale to the stage brilliantly twenty years after its first viewing at the Royal Court. Reviewers cannot complain about the cost of a seat but as a punter one might feel slightly short changed although these 40 minutes are worth far more than some plays currently on display that run for ever. But be warned. The meal may be small, the content substantial – and frightening.
A little girl is having nightmares. She cannot sleep. She comes down to talk to her aunt who is making some sort of wall hanging. It is on the surface a comfortable family scene. But the little girl has heard screams outside the house. She has climbeed out of a window to try and find out what is going on – and something is happening, her uncle seems to be holding people in the shed. The aunt explains he is just giving them somewhere to shelter. It was just a party. But why then was there so much blood? he child asks. The aunt reassures her.
Then there is a time shift. The little girl now grown up is a milliner. She and her male companion are making hats for people to wear on parades. It is a comfortable work place situation except that at one point the woman says it is such a pity they have to burn the hats along with the bodies. Then suddenly the stage seems to expand and a seemingly endless stream of people wearing the hats, bizarre, grotesque, comic and insane Ascot creations walk in – and vanish.The world it seems is at war – everything in it, humans, animals and nature itself is battling with everything else. It is a chilling thought-provoking vision and gets the production it deserves.
Young Joan: Sophia Ally/Abbiegail Mills.
Harper: Jessica Hynes.
Joan: Aisling Loftus.
Todd: Lyndsey Turner.
Designer: Lizzie Clachan.
Lighting Designer: Peter Mumford.
Sound Designer: Christopher Short.
Production Photographs: Johan Persson.

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