Prior to its 2019 UK and Ireland tour, Gail Louw’s acclaimed play Shackleton’s Carpenter will receive its West End premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre this summer.
Shackleton’s Carpenter, Harry McNish, was the only man who challenged The Boss on the ice floes of Antarctica.
In the summer of 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail on The Endurance for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. It was to be a fateful journey. On November 21, 1915 the Endurance was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica, causing her to sink. The expedition leader and his crew of 27 were left stranded on pack ice.
McNish, brilliant carpenter and shipwright, defied Shackleton’s orders and played an absolutely vital role in ensuring all 28 were saved. But whose was the story to endure?
For all his bravery and ingenuity, McNish was one of the very few crew members who were never awarded the Polar Medal. His health impaired by the experience, he emigrated to New Zealand where his condition worsened, and he could no longer work. Now, alone and destitute, one still night on the dockside, he challenges The Boss one last
time. In his fevered mind he relives the Endurance expedition, pitting himself against Shackleton and plagued by the ghosts of his past. How did he antagonise the hero of Antarctica? How does he come to terms with it?
Shackleton’s Carpenter is directed by Tony Miler and stars Malcolm Rennie. The play will be presented at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre from 29 July to 17 August 2019 prior to a tour of UK and Ireland.