Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912)

Owen McCafferty's verbatim play explores the reasons for Titanic's sinking

As the world commemorates the centenary of the Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, the MAC in Belfast is preparing for a compelling courtroom drama that will uncover a narrative hidden for 100 years.

This month the MAC, Belfast’s brand new arts venue, will debut Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912), a verbatim play by award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty.

Directed by Charlotte Westenra, the 14 strong cast will tell the story of the disaster in the words of the ship’s survivors, taken from the accounts recorded at the British Inquiry, held immediately after the disaster.

Thomas Howes from smash-hit ITV drama Downton Abbey will play the role of George Symons, look-out on the Titanic, who gave his testimony to the British Inquiry on May 17 1912. Symons was questioned in particular about the use of binoculars on board the Titanic.

Another TV star cast in the MAC production is Ben Caplan, who recently starred as PC Peter Noakes in hit drama Call the Midwife. Caplan will play Sir J Simon, the Solicitor General at the British Inquiry.

A wealth of local talent will also take to the stage. Belfast-born actor Ian McElhinney, who stars in HBO’s Game of Thrones, has been cast as the Court Clerk, the only fictional character in the production, who provides the role of narrator.

Gillian Mitchell, Director of Programmes at the MAC said: 'What is so powerful about this piece of drama is the fact that it uses the testimonies of the survivors and uncovers their personal stories.

'Everyone knows the tragic story of the Titanic sinking, but less well-known are the individual stories for survival that were uncovered during the Inquiries that followed. Having read Owen’s fantastic script, I was gripped by the real-life drama that these people not only endured on that fateful night, but in the weeks and months following it in court.

'That they were brought to an Inquiry immediately after the event, while emotions were still so raw, is just something that wouldn’t happen today. It has made for a really compelling piece of drama that will work so well on stage.'

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: 'As the first drama to be staged in the new theatre, Titanic will capture the imagination of local and international audiences, bringing to life historical accounts of one the most tragic events in our history.”

The MAC opens for business and pleasure on April 20. Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912) opens April 22. Tickets are available online from www.themaclive.com or by phoning 028 9023 5053.