The Man Who Left the Titanic is a play about the managing director of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay, who on that fateful night of 15 April 1912 escaped from the ill-fated ship in the last lifeboat, leaving around 1500 people to die. Set in the 1930s, as a sleepless Ismay is visited by the ghost of Titanic‘s architect Thomas Andrews (who went down with the ship), the play asks us to consider whether Ismay was really a villain, or if he acted in the way that most of us would have done.
Presented by Isoceles in association with Useful Idiots, the play was written by Patrick Prior and is directed by Jim Dunk, with Pat Abernethy and Dave Marsden in the two roles of Ismay and Andrews. With minimal staging – a few crates and a projected backdrop of the vast Atlantic Ocean – the play is not at all showy but manages to capture interest. Both of the characters are well-drawn and play off against each other, Andrews’ coolness complementing Ismay’s anxious defence. Though perhaps a little long and slightly repetitive on occasion, the play is an obviously well-researched insight into the events of the sinking. I was left with some sympathy for Ismay and have been weighing up the rights and wrongs of his actions in my mind ever since. Definitely worth seeing if it tours to your area.