Sand [2013]

Eileen Walsh

Sand is a fractured, multi-narrative, polyvocal piece about the development and deployment of nuclear weapons; the constantly-shifting text moves between numerous times and locations, both real and hypothetical, until every thread, and the text’s language itself, collapses.


It was first shown at the Royal Court Theatre on 17 June 2013 as part of the Surprise Theatre programme, directed by Vicky Featherstone and performed by Eileen Walsh and Toby Jones.

It was subsequently directed by Kate Wasserberg and performed by Sara Lloyd-Gregory at The Other Room Theatre in Cardiff, February 2016.

Number of performers: unspecified

Running time: 30-40 mins.


‘the final ten minutes or so of the piece, where the language breaks down irrecoverably is about as good a piece of writing-for-theatre as I can think of. Something about the tone and the precision makes it particularly chilling whilst being strangely beautiful.’

Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods


‘With Britain the target and the Nazis the bomb’s creators, Sand adroitly resuscitates the nuclear threat. It’s no longer some distant icon, separated by years and seas. Nuclear testing isn’t just an item on the in brief round-up at the end of the six o’clocks. Gill restores the heat of that iconic mushroom cloud and the reality of the possibility – slim or otherwise – that this could be (or could have been) your fate.

Sand breaks down into a hyperventilating emergency broadcast – fragments of a familiar apocalypse – and the unease this hammering, insistent text spawns feels no different to other anomic anxieties. “Radiation poisoning and panic are the same thing,” the broadcast warns. The truth is that, having lived in a post-nuclear world for 67 years, we’re all suffering from radiation poisoning.’

Matt Trueman, personal blog

‘a remarkable monologue about nuclear radiation and disaster delivered with stunning technique and unwavering intensity by the brilliant Irish actress Eileen Walsh.’

Michael Coveney,