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Shackleton's Carpenter - Jermyn Street Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

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, where it will run from Monday, July 29 to Saturday, August 17, 2019.

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 Milner and stars Malcolm Rennie.

Gail Louw is a multi-award winning playwright and her plays are performed throughout the world. Her play Duwayne won Best New Play at Brighton Fringe 2014 and Blonde Poison has been produced internationally, winning an Argus Angel for Artistic Excellence in 2012, Best of the Fest at the San Francisco Fringe 2016 and was the flagship production at the Hilton Arts Festival in South Africa. Her new play The Ice Cream Boys is being produced as part of Jermyn Street Theatre’s Autumn Season.

Tony Milner had a long career in the theatre as an actor, director and since 1979 as a producer and director with his company New Vic Productions. Shackleton’s Carpenter was the second last play he directed before his death in 2015 and this production is dedicated to his memory.

Malcolm Rennie has appeared in over 20 West End shows including Catch my Soul, She Stoops to Conquer, The Good Companions, Salad Days, The Price, The Cabinet Minister, Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Chiltern Hundreds, Hard Times and many more. His television and film credits include: Midsomer Murders, Taggart, Ransom, Pride and Prejudice, The Lenny Henry Show, Sunny Stories, The Accountant, Monarch of the Glen and most recently Hysteria, Coronation Street, Sherlock, and four series of Mr Selfridge as Fraser the family butler.

Tickets: £30 full price, Concessions £20. All tickets £30 after August 10. To book, call the box office on 0207 287 2875 or visit

Times: Monday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm; Saturday matinees at 3.30pm.