Set in a traditional London pub on the night it goes out of business, We Anchor in Hope is a nostalgic elegy for a dwindling sense of community.
Playwright Anna Jordan populates her doomed boozer with recognisable but overfamiliar characters, capturing the rhythms of their cheeky banter. However, as their lock-in slowly descends into the inevitable drunken confrontations, Jordan fills in their stories with strokes so broad they verge on the manipulative.
Old-timer Frank – a poised David Killick – struggles with memory loss. Landlord Kenny waxes lyrical about the blitz spirit he felt during the 7/7 bombings.
The cast tackles the overstretched material with impressive energy. Alex Jarrett is strong as bartender Pearl, watching the men who surround her with wariness and guarded compassion. She shares a great chemistry with Alan Turkington’s middle-aged scaffolder Shaun, their mutual warmth always just one flirtatious remark away from boiling over into sexual tension.
Meanwhile, Valentine Hanson puts on a brave face as Kenny, doling out free shots and rolls of petty cash as his world falls apart, an edge of desperate, dangerous ferocity underpinning his performance.
Designer Zoë Hurwitz has transformed the Bunker Theatre’s intimate industrial space into a convincing, carpeted barroom, where the audience perches on stools and wooden chairs.
Director Chris Sonnex uses the venue to the full, keeping the performers circulating, singing, and squabbling, generating a mood as chaotic, intense, but ultimately unsatisfying as any drunken blowout.