2022 – Corinna, Corinna Review – Drama Ocean Hits The Rocks | stage

THis ambitious new play, written by ChloĆ« Moss, is impressively presented and beautifully performed in this co-production from Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse with Headlong Theatre, directed by Holly Rhys Rogan. We are on a modern cargo ship that transports containers from Felixstowe to Asia. (Moi Trans’s stunning design simultaneously features the bridge, roof, and lower deck quadrants.) Moss depicts this claustrophobic, hierarchical, rule-bound world as a microcosm in which societal issues of oppression and prejudice play a large role.

Corinna (Laura Ellsworthy, intense and multifaceted) is the only woman on board to take her first position since leaving college as a boy a few years ago. The reason for this delay is due to a traumatic incident with a fellow student, Will. As a high-ranking officer, he unexpectedly appeared on this trip. The ship’s passage through the pirate-infested waters off Somalia gives an excuse for Will (Mike Noble, Jazz Lightner) to start a showdown with Corinna and then play on institutional sexism to further his own attempts to undermine Corinna both personally and professionally.

The other crew members are mainly from the Philippines. Corina, unlike other officers, is trying to establish friendly relations with these men. Angelou (James Bradwell, with a smile that hides deep despondency) confides in her about their horrible working conditions and months of deferred wages. He himself was driven to lend to the sharks that now threaten the family he works so hard to support. Through Angelou, the work poignantly illustrates the human cost of institutional racism and the profit motive. However, using Angelo to advance Corina’s story, the action itself appears to be taking advantage of his status and that of his peers. The weight of their ordeal is less than their plight.

Moss’ intent to tackle important issues is admirable, but because her text poses problems rather than developing them exponentially, characters and situations lose credibility and her arguments lose influence.

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