Pubs used to be the centre of communities all around the country. A place of refuge, a place to forget your troubles and drown your sorrows and a place where regulars formed bonds. All over the country, pubs are closing as the economics have deteriorated from drinking and smoking laws, conversion to upmarket gastro pubs or simply changing habits of entertainment. ‘We Anchor in Hope‘ takes us into one pub on its’ last night before closure, as the regulars gather for one final time.
Author Anna Jordan has pulled together the play from what feels like verbatim interviews, gathered together from locals in Pimlico and mingled them with her own sadness from bereavement to produce a dark tale, as the regulars reveal in a drunken final night the truths about their lives and relationship. It is raw and downbeat, as slowly the five reveal their lonely lives without hope or ambition.
Bilbo, played by Daniel Kendrick is a young man with a tragic childhood. Passed around foster homes and hoping the lock-in will offer him a future – at least for the next few days. The illusion of being a valued member of the pub community is shattered.
Frank, played by David Killick, is an elderly man seeking nightly company and hiding a dark secret about his wife Joan, who he leaves at home. His past relationship with the Landlord’s father (who has passed away), binds him to the place, as he clings to the past and his future is uncertain when it has gone.
The landlord is Kenny, fifty years old, played by Valentine Hanson, the jovial host who keeps his customers secrets but harbours regrets over lost loves and has a violent drunken streak. Pearl, played by Alex Jarrett is the young bar maid who has been a regular at the pub since her mother first bought her in at age six and is now struggling to deal with her mother’s actions at home. She too harbours a secret.
The final regular is Shaun (played by Alan Turkington) the Irish scaffolder working on the Battersea Power Station conversion during the week and travelling home to his wife of twenty seven years in Liverpool at the weekend. We see them reminiscing about the best nights in the pub; the night of the 7/7 terrorist attack, Chelsea winning the Champions League, karaoke nights and consuming the final dregs of the pub’s stock .
The play is a slow burn, although it does explode into one or two moments of high drama. But they are a long time coming and we are simply silent customers, listening into their banter and memories. The cast work hard and dance energetically to breathe life into the story but we never start to care about any of them.
If you miss the experience of passing a night at a pub bar, drinking steadily until the final bell then you might enjoy this experience but for me it just reminded me why I only go to the pub now for a cheap meal.
Reviewed by Nick Wayne
Photo: Helen Murray
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