‘Infinite life’: Annie Baker’s latest play delves into pain and absurdity

Their treatment involves fasting for long periods.

Annie Baker’s latest play is designed to subvert expectations, as most of her work does.

The long silences and the frequent collisions between the banal and the absurd are often comical and frequently alarming.

She is able to stretch reality like elastic.

At 47, Sofi (Christina Kirk) is the youngest and her attempts to read George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda are constantly interrupted by stories from the others, including one about making pornography for the blind.

The arrival of a man in their midst alters the dynamic.

As information leaks out in uncomfortably graphic detail, it is clear that they are all in pain – emotional, spiritual, physical.

Their descriptions become increasingly competitive.

Sofi’s pain might be psychological and her admission that “It’s my fault for not having lived the life I should have lived” is quietly devastating.

Superbly performed by an all-American cast, it is a play like no other because Baker is a playwright like no other.

I don’t know how she does what she does. I only know that she does it brilliantly.

National Theatre until January 13
Tickets: 020 3989 5455

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