by Nicola McCartney.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2JH to 6 October 2018.
Runs 70 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366
Review: William Russell 21 September.
A moving tale of survival in wartime against the odds.
On 13 September 1940 the City of Benares left Liverpool for Canada with 90 evacuee children on board being taken there to escape the Blitz. Four days later in mid Atlantic during a storm it was sunk by a German submarine. For nineteen hours Bass Walder (Claire Bowman) and Beth Cumming (Lindsey Scott) clung to their lifeboat which had overturned after being incorrectly launched, tipping the children in it into the water.
Directed with considerable resource by Kate Bannister the play deals with the girls’ reactions to their plight and takes them out of the water from time to time to explain how they got there, who they were with – teachers went along with them and one of the girls has her younger brother in the section of the ship where the boys were housed – he is missing and she fears drowned. It makes fascinating listening, the performances are assured and proves a rewarding account of a forgotten story.
There is an ingenious well lit set by Karl Swinyard which manages both to let us see the girls clinging to the lifeboat, but also suggests the ship, no mean feat in a small studio theatre. The storm does rage, we do endure their perils and admire their stoicism in an evening which is also just the right length.
In a way they live happily ever after – they do survive after all – but with the memories of all the other children they were with, which are not happy.
Bess Walder: Claire Bowman.
Beth Cummings: Lindsey Scott.
Director: Kate Bannister.
Set Design: Karl Swinyard.
Costume Design: Martin Robertson.
Lighting Design: Tim Kitney.
Sound Design: Jack Elliot Barton.
Assistant Director: Laurel Marks.
Production Photography: Tim Stubbs Hughes.