ONE of the most exciting, and highly anticipated productions in recent years comes to Garter Lane on Friday, November 1 and Saturday November 2. Shackleton tells the story of Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s failed voyage to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914 and is a visually spectacular re-telling of perhaps the greatest survival story ever. It features an ensemble cast, who are helped by original footage from the voyage and for the first time ever, some very clever on stage puppetry.
For those unfamiliar with the tale, Shackleton’s expedition was an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic. However, within weeks of setting off, the crew’s ship, the Endurance, got stuck in sea ice as it approached the Antarctic continent. With no way to communicate with the outside world and nobody knowing where Shackleton and his crew were, the ship began drifting north again – spending a whole year trapped in pack ice. Eventually, the crew of the Endurance were forced to abandon ship before it was crushed by sea ice and sank, leaving the 28 men drifting helplessly with just their three lifeboats to get home.
The crew spent the next number of months on makeshift camps on the ice, where they continued to drift northwards. But soon, the ice began to break up beneath and the crew had to use their lifeboats to row to the uninhabited Elephant Island – which was 800 miles away from civilisation. After arriving on the island, Shackleton and five others then made an open-boat journey across the roughest seas in the world to reach South Georgia, where they had last been heard from three years before. But the challenge wasn’t nearly finished. Three of the exhausted crew, including Shackleton, then crossed the mountainous icy island, a feat which had never been achieved before.
From there, they enlisted the help to rescue the remaining 12 men waiting on Elephant Island, and managed to bring them home without a single loss of life. Despite Shackleton’s ultimate success in rescuing his men against all odds, Henry says the explorer – who was born and lived for a time in Co. Kildare – was ultimately a tragic figure.
Shackleton will take your breath away.
See it at Garter Lane on November 1 & 2 at 8pm. Tickets (€20) are available from www.garterlane.ie or from the box office at 051 – 855038