On Friday 13 September 1940, a ship, The City of Benares, set sail from Liverpool for Canada. On board were 90 evacuees escaping the bombing and dangers of war torn Britain. Four days into the crossing, the ship was torpedoed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and sank.
Two fifteen year old school girls, Bess Walder and Beth Cummings, spent 19 terrifying hours in the water on an upturned lifeboat. They willed each other to survive.
LIFEBOAT tells their extraordinary true story, a moving and ultimately uplifting story of courage, of resilience and of enduring friendship. “We were not in the business of giving up.”
Produced by the same team behind the Offie nominated and five star productions of Kes and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
LIFEBOAT was first produced as an original stage production by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company and directed by Gill Robertson.
Press for this production
This moving and magical story of survival is another stellar production from the Jack Studio Theatre – grab a ticket while you can. ★★★★★ Fairy Powered Productions
Playwright Nicola McCartney’s dramaturgy is so intense and well-crafted… Lifeboat is a moving tale of friendship and endurance that is both inspiring and stirring. One more impeccable in-house production for the close-knit team of the Jack Studio Theatre. ★★★★★ Everything Theatre
Claire Bowman, as Bess, and Lindsey Scott, as Beth, give bravura and moving performances… Special marks must go to Tom Kitney and Jack Eliot Barton for their stunning light and sound staging respectively… A moving, poignant yet uplifting play ★★★★★ London Pub Theatres
The lighting and sound design by Tom Kitney and Jack Elliot Barton respectively play a big part in the seamless transition between different scenes and places in time. Karl Swinyard’s set design also deftly conveys the upturned lifeboat… the play retains a spirit of optimism ★★★★ 1/2 Breaking the Fourth Wall
A moving tale of survival in wartime against the odds.… Directed with considerable resource by Kate Bannister … it makes fascinating listening, the performances are assured and proves a rewarding account of a forgotten story. ★★★★ Reviewsgate
under the direction of the consistently brilliant Kate Bannister, it makes for an enthralling 70 minutes. The Brockley Jack has a well-deserved reputation for its excellent in-house productions. Lifeboat is no exception, rising magnificently to the challenges presented by the play’s structure and themes. Jack Elliot Barton and Tom Kitney recreates with stunning accuracy not only the sights and sounds of the 1940s but also the attack and its aftermath. Claire Bowman and Lindsey Scott show their versatility as they slip seamlessly from one character to another. But it’s as the central characters that they’re most compelling… we come to know and care about both girls… Lifeboat is undoubtedly another triumph for the Brockley Jack team. Go and see it while you can. Theatre Things
Bowman and Scott play a myriad of characters throughout… and with such humour, we are riveted by their energy. But apart from fabulous acting, Lifeboat’s success lies in the impressive use of set design… A thoroughly good night’s entertainment. Southwark News
there is an unerring charm to the play’s portrayal of wartime Britain and the influences on their young lives… Over the 70 minutes, McCartney balances the fun and excitement of travelling on ship with tragic details of the sinking… What gives this Lifeboat ballast are the engaging performances of Lindsey Scott and Claire Bowman as Beth and Bess and the production itself under the direction of Kate Bannister. Scott and Bowman effortlessly slide in and out of playing the supporting characters in each other’s lives and between the changes of scene which are executed with spotless technical support. British Theatre Guide
The cast and creative team do a fantastic job… it’s well acted, classily produced Stage Review
Off West End Best Sound Design Nomination, Jack Elliot Barton.
Off West End Best Lighting Design Nomination, Tom Kitney