Tale of Titanic owner who didn’t go down with his ship at Brookside Theatre
PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 January 2015
The Brookside Theatre is bringing back an award-winning play about the Titanic to commemorate the birthday of Essex-born survivor, Eva Hart MBE.
Ms Hart, who died in 1996, would have turned 110 tomorrow (Sat), when the play will be performed.
She was one of the most outspoken critics of the play’s protagonist J. Bruce Ismay and his company White Star Line.
Patrick Prior’s The Man Who Left The Titanic tells the true story of Ismay, owner of the Titanic, who was the last man to get aboard the lifeboats.
Ismay was heavily criticised in the press afterwards for not staying on his ship.
His internal conflict about this decision takes place in the play, set 20 years later.
It is performed as a dialogue between the insomniac Ismay, clad in nightclothes, and the ghost of the Titanic’s designer, Thomas Andrews.
Andrews was chosen by Prior to haunt Ismay as Andrews stayed and died on the Titanic, in stark contrast to Ismay.
Andrews, played by Dave Marsden, probes the helpless Ismay, performed by Pat Abernethy, throughout.
Marsden told the Recorder: “The overarching theme of the play is about the choices we have to make very quickly in life.
“Ismay was standing there – there was a space on the boat and he had 30 seconds to decide what to do.”
The audience are constantly questioned about whether they would have made the same choice as Ismay.
“Most people nowadays I suspect would get into the boat,” sighed Marsden when asked the question.
Marsden explained Ismay lived the rest of his life as a recluse.
He said: “Ismay moved to the west of Ireland and basically lived as a hermit.
“The choice he made really affected him.”
Marsden and Abernethy have performed the roles since the play first started in 2010.
Marsden said he thought the continued success of the play was due to the public’s fascination with “the Titanic’s story”.
He said: “I don’t think it was just because of [James] Cameron’s film. It was the biggest and best ship at the time and it just sunk.
“It had a massive impact on Britain and its pride, and basically signalled the end of the empire.”
Jai Sepple, manager of theatre, explained how pleased he was for the production to return to Brookside, after showing in 2012.
He said: “It was one of the first performances we ever had at the theatre.”
Sepple added: “Isosceles Productions have put on quite a few plays here and the scripts always read superbly.
“It is very rare for a play to return for a second run at our theatre, often tribute acts but rarely plays.”
Marsden said of Brookside: “Jai and Harry work very hard to bring good theatre to Romford, we always enjoy coming and performing here.”
Marsden and Abernethy form Isosceles Productions with writer Prior and Director Jim Dunk.
The play will be performed at the Brookside Theatre, Romford, tomorrow with performances at 2pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets are available from the theatre on 01708 755 775 or online at brooksidetheatre.com
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