Titanic sails into the Island Arts Centre

LOCAL people are invited to take a voyage into the past as a new two man production arrives in Lisburn tomorrow night (Saturday), which explores the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic, and particularly the role played by J. Bruce Ismay during that fateful night.

Friday, 8th October 2010, 11:19 am
Updated Friday, 8th October 2010, 11:19 am

The Man Who Left The Titanic, a new play by Patrick Prior, performed by Pat Abernethy and Dave Marsden and directed by Jim Dunk, attempts to discover whether Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line, was a coward, or merely human, for his actions that night when he stepped into a lifeboat and sailed away from the stricken ship he had commissioned, and the 1,517 people left behind on the doomed vessel.

Belfast born actor Pat Abernethy is Ismay, a man condemned across the world for his actions, who has become a recluse in Ireland. It is here he is visited by the ghost of Thomas Andrews, the man in charge of building the Titanic, who perished in the disaster, portrayed by Irish actor Dave Marsden.

Speaking ahead of his visit to Lisburn, Pat commented: "I'm very much looking forward to it. This is the first time we have brought this show to Northern Ireland and I am very interested to see how it is received. The show opened earlier this year in London and we have been touring across the UK with it since then."

Pat, who started performing with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, before moving onto Dublin and finally settling in London, added: "The subject seems to fascinate everybody of all ages. Ismay got into one of the lifeboats when it was a time of 'women and children first'; it was not the done thing and he was pilloried for the rest of his life. He is visited by the ghost of Thomas Andrews, who worked at Harland and Wolff and was the chief designer, and who was a very courageous and noble man who did go down with the ship. There is a moral argument that runs through the show. People probably hate Bruce Ismay, but as they watch it they think, 'what would I have done?' and it plants that seed of doubt into people's minds."

Pat continued: "I was brought up in Belfast and left in my late teens, but the Titanic was hardly ever mentioned. Belfast had this kind of guilt, but the workers did nothing wrong."

As the 100th Anniversary is swiftly approaching, Pat realised that there will be much written and performed about the Titanic as April 15 2012 approaches. He said: "There is a whole year and a half to go, but interest is already starting up. We wanted to get ahead of other people. It is strange though, because it is not something to celebrate."

Speaking about his return to the Island Arts Centre, where he will be watched by his sister who still lives in Belfast, Pat added: "The Island Arts Centre wasn't there when I left, it is a fantastic place. I have done a number of shows there; I'm absolutely looking forward to it.

"I would encourage everybody to come and see the show. Because of the film, there are a lot of younger people interested in the Titanic. A lot of older people attend the theatre, unlike younger people, but anybody that has an interest I hope can come and see the show."

Limited tickets for The Man Who Left The Titanic, costing 10 or 8 concession, are available now. For further information on the show please visit www.isosceles.biz. For tickets contact the Island Arts Centre online at www.islandartscentre.com or telephone the Box Office 028 92509 254.