The play is set in New York six months or so after the Titanic sank, and interest in the tragedy is waning. A young lady, who describes herself as the fiancé of one of the musicians, arrives trying to resolve some of the unexplained questions about the sinking. Why was there confusion about which tunes the band were playing as the ship went down? Why were the lookout’s binoculars locked away? Why were the original distress calls ignored? Why did the ship set sail with a fire on board? Her questioning leads to issues surrounding the construction of the vessel, and even more sinister motivations for wanting the ship never to complete her maiden voyage.
Playwright Ron Hutchinson has inventively used this most enduring of disaster stories to raise questions about conspiracy theories. These are as relevant today as they were a hundred years ago. The play’s world premiere is presented at The Park Theatre’s Stage 90 in Finsbury Park, on a largely bare stage with the audience on three sides. The atmosphere the of the early 20th century is well evoked with carefully chosen stage furnishings and excellent period costumes.
Director Eoin O’Callaghan has chosen a presentation with overlapping scenes and time periods, which worked well. Minimal stage furniture in the playing area was used successfully to depict various locations including a newspaper office, the quayside, and a hotel and café.
The effect of the play would have been stronger had some of the characters been played rather more subtly. This applied particularly to the portrayal of the female detective, which was a nice idea, but rather spoilt by the one-dimensional, overaggressive presentation. I also felt that a play about an event which evokes such strong images could have been enhanced by using more imaginative staging, perhaps using projections of the ship and some of the characters in the real-life drama.
Playing until the 2nd April, https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/ghosts-of-the-titanic
Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd
Reviewed: 10th March 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★