Sunday 22 May 2022

New play: Sexual harasssment at sea

Corrina Corrina, Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, UK (17 May – 4 June 2020

Corrina faces a metaphorical storm. All pictures by Helen Murray

Workplace sexual harassment today is a big mental health issue, especially for seafarers. Victim’s lives are wrecked. Promising careers are wasted in an industry facing severe shortages.

The death of Cadet Akhona Geveza in 2010 and the at-sea rape of Midshipman X in 2021 mean most people now know that being on a ship where someone senior is pursuing and disrespecting you is a 24:7 hell that needs to be stopped forever. Pronto.

For the first time, a play – not a trade union survey or policy document – is making that story of sexual harassment at sea come alive. Corrina Corrina also shows the structural injustice and the gas lighting in a context of the racial injustice against the Filipino crew.


Third Mate Corrina Wilkinson (Laura Elsworthy) is 28, smart, fair-minded and set on becoming a captain. She joins container ship MSC Keto in Felixstowe, headed for Singapore. The good news is that her captain (smug David Crellin) prides himself on being progressively pro-women. That’s one battle less for her, she thinks.

Then Corrina  finds that she knows the First Officer, Will Lewis  (creepy Mike Noble) from Warsash training college. He’s a guy who once before didn’t believe her ‘No’ meant no, although conveniently he now mis-remembers her as complicit.

Being a prat and egotist, he thinks he’s in with a chance this trip. But she’s makes it clear she just wants to get on with her job.

The Filipino crew have mixed feelings about a woman onboard. Corrina doesn’t endear herself by telling bitter gendered jokes, swearing, eating in the crew space and not being up for karaoke. She’s not being an acceptable sort of lady, and that’s as upsetting as Mr Bligh’s bad language was on the Bounty.

Luckily, in this tenderness-free zone, deck worker Angelo (loveable James Bradwell) and Corrina become pals. They enjoy the kind of extraordinary camaraderie that can be possible between even the most mismatched of shipmates; they  trust, despite the class divide.

Not so luckily, Will takes against this (non-sexual) affinity. In a racist way he warns her that as an officer and woman she should keep her distance. They aren’t used to a woman being  ... open with them.’ 

Confrontation on the Keto: Rafael, Coriina, Rizal and Angelo.

Angelo’s fellow crew members are uneasy about this friendship too.  Lonely Rafael (a convincingly wary Martin Sarreal) resents people crossing boundaries. And the older Rizal (Angelo Paragoso) stays circumspectly out of the way.

Trouble mounts as Will ‘chivalrously’ bullies Rafael, which undermines Corrina. Will clearly becomes a liability when he plays a traumatising trick on Corrina. (This is a thriller, so I’m holding back. On what happens, but it’s so bad that she complains to Captain.

Will not only denies what he did, he wrecks her status – which may ruin her future career.  Similarly, his impact on Angelo causes an irredeemable tragedy and worsens class/race relations on board.

Stressed out of her wits, Corrina takes revenge. See it to find out how she does so.


This is a moving and wise play, about the importance about integrity and respect, and the proximity of suicide. It’s a world where a Dolly Parton song can save your life, where loan shark attacks are inescapable, and where pix of your kids are a constant reminder that your shipmates can never be your real family.

The two-tier set makes the class conflict clear: white officers can move between the high-tech site of control aloft and the scruffy crew mess room below with its pitiful microwave and sauce bottles below. But the crew are sentenced to the netherworld dump where the karaoke machine is the company -supplied sweetener that doesn’t ever make up for the structural injustice.

The production by Headlong and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, with a script by Chloe Moss. The director is Holly Race Roughan. If you can't wait until a tour gets sorted then pre-order the book at

Traumatised Corrina faces Will in the ship's citadel


I’ve watched and read a lot of ship-based dramas. This stage play ranks with the two best modern merchant shipping movies: Stowaways (1997)  by Denis Chou nard and Nicolas Wadimoff, and Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey (2016) by Lucie Borleteau. 

Corrina, Corinna is about a totally different world from Anything Goes, Carry on Cruising and the Love Boat TV series. The production gives us a  profound understanding of human relationships and the intensity that can make a voyage life-changing, even fatal.