Joan Greening
A Drunken Sailor


Anne Wood (Julia Monrow) is at the end of her tether. Having been Scammed in the past, she is hiding in an abandoned office and is unable to trust the mysterious stranger (Stu Jackson) who arrives promising her relief.

The intentions of author and director Joan Greening are clear from the opening as the camera roams around cities to an eerie soundtrack. The influence of Pinter is apparent in a character who provokes terror by asking apparently inconsequential questions—Anne is quizzed about her favourite colour and number. There is stark contrast between Stu Jackson’s urbane, relaxed stranger and Julia Monrow’s frazzled, almost hysterical Anne Wood.

There are, however, a number of limitations about the play. The production is not convincing as a conversation. COVID restrictions limit interaction between actors and it is too apparent Monrow and Jackson are not in the same room. The backgrounds differ and the camerawork on Monrow is slightly out of focus.

More significantly, for a thriller / horror story, there is a lack of tension. Greening uses the unknown (we never learn the events that have driven Anne into hiding) and the unusual (empty office buildings) to generate unease. Yet, even without googling the Stranger’s unusual first name, it is very easy to guess his true identity. Once that is established, the play simply moves towards a conclusion that is far from surprising.

Reviewer: David Cunningham

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