Amazing story of ingenuity and survival is brought to the stage

Shackleton's Carpenter ' starring Malcolm Rennie as Harry McNish ' is currently touring the country.
Shackleton's Carpenter ' starring Malcolm Rennie as Harry McNish ' is currently touring the country.

One-man show Shackleton’s Carpenter – by award-winning playwright Gail Louw – re-lives the story of one of the most astonishing voyages of survival in history.

The play is currently on tour, and will be visiting Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, on Friday, October 19.

In August 1914, as war broke out, the Endurance set sail for the Antarctic led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Over 15 months later, crushed by the ice of the Weddell Sea, the Endurance sank and 28 men were stranded on the Antarctic ice cap.

Their subsequent survival and rescue was down in part to Harry McNish, the ship’s carpenter who ingeniously adapted the three remaining life boats to withstand the extreme rigours of polar sea travel. He was also the only man to openly disagree with Shackleton’s escape plan, an action which cost him the prestigious Polar Medal.

The play begins in 1930 with McNish, ill and destitute, sleeping in an old lifeboat on the wharf in Wellington, New Zealand.

He awakes and re-lives his Endurance experiences, conjuring up the ghosts of his past.

In his fevered mind he recalls his shipmates, McLeod, Green, the hated Orde-Lees, his cat, Mrs Chippy, shot by Shackleton, and most tellingly, the Boss himself and their fateful quarrel.

Malcolm Rennie has been an actor for over 50 years, and has appeared in over 20 West End shows. His TV and film appearances include Midsomer Murders, Taggart, Ransom, Pride & Prejudice, The Lenny Henry Show, The Accountant, Monarch of the Glen, Coronation Street, Sherlock and as Fraser in four series of Mr Selfridge.

Shackleton’s Carpenter is supported by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Tickets for Shackleton’s Carpenter at Brunton Theatre on Friday, October 19, are available online at the website www.thebrunton.co.uk.