God is a pot smoking Irish Mafia don. Gabriel is a fey, stealing angel, who plays pranks on those who have just passed. The first class arrive at the gates of Saint Peter and demanding their luggage. This is just some of what you will be seeing in Bernard McMullan’s Jimmy Titanic, being performed by Colin Hamell at the Irish Rep. In heaven unlike in life, Jimmy is a superstar due to his death on the Titanic. As he tells his version of what happened and of some of the lives aboard the doomed ship 75 minutes, seems much longer than what it really is.
Jimmy Boylan was one of the 14,000 Belfast shipbuilders, who worked as a riveter on the building of the ship who along with his friend, Tommy Mackey, were two of the nine chosen to be part of the ship’s guarantee group, all of whom perished. We hear the heartbreaking stories during the ship’s final hour. Millionaire John Jacob Astor, White Star Line chairman Bruce Ismay, come to life. We learn that none of the 33 Bulgarian passengers, lived. We feel for Spanish steerage passenger who is shot while begging to get his wife and children aboard a life boat. “Por favor, mi familia,” he cries.
Mr. Hamill has distinctive voices for McMullan’s characters, but they are not always on cue. His American accents do not ring true with the New York Time editor and Michigan Senator William Alden Smith. Maybe director Carmel O’Reilly could have helped, but the show moves so bizarrely back and forth between heaven and the Titanic that you just stop even trying to care. The most touching, and well-acted scene was when a father trying to save his child from the rising waters in his cabin, finally clutches him to his breast.
McMullan’s script doesn’t exactly know what it wants to be. As the heaven scenes and the Titanic scenes do not flow easily and just seem in two different voices. The heaven scenes seem as if McMullan is going for a comedy club act, but I found the material distasteful. There were a few 20 something audience members, who did find this amusing.
Scenic and lighting designer Michael Gottlieb rmakes us feel as if we are in the bowels of the Titanic. His dramatic and on point lighting, was the star of the show.
I was excited to see a play about the Titanic, but like the ship I just found this play sinkable.
10th Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival, iW. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre, Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 W. 22nd St. until Feb. 18th.