By Nicola McCartney


Age suitability: 9+ or P5+
Running time: 70 minutes

Lifeboat is the extraordinary true story of Bess Walder and Beth Cummings. Set in World War II, it is a story of courage, a story of survival and a story of enduring friendship.

On Friday 13 September 1940, a ship, The City of Benares, set sail from Liverpool for Canada. On board were 90 evacuees escaping the relentless bombing and dangers of war torn Britain. Four days into the crossing, the ship was torpedoed and sank. Only eleven of the evacuees survived.

Two fifteen year old 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 story.

Touring to schools in Spring 2020, contact Anna Derricourt at to book.

Creative Team

Writer: Nicola McCartney
Director: Gill Robertson
Composer: Dave Trouton
Lighting Designer: Jeanine Davies
Designer: Karen Tennent
Costume Designer: Karen Tennent

Production History

Number of performances to date: 592

Scotland 2002:
6th May 2002 - 8th June 2002

Scotland and The Republic of Ireland 2003:
15th September 2003 - 6th November 2003

Republic of Ireland and Canada 2004:
23rd April 2004 - 12th June 2004

UK Tour 2005:
6th August 2005 - 1st October 2005

Scottish Schools 2005:
22nd August 2005 - 13th October 2005

England and USA 2006:
6th February 2006 - 11th March 2006

The Ark, Dublin 2006:
10th October 2006 - 12th October 2006

UK and USA 2007:
31st January 2007 - 25th March 2007

New Zealand and Australia 2008:
22nd February 2008 - 30th March 2008

UK and Ireland 2013:
27th September 2013 - 17th November 2013

Scottish Schools Tour 2015:
12th January 2015 - 29th March 2015

North America and Canada 2015:
9th March 2015 - 17th May 2015

West Yorkshire Playhouse 2017:
1st May 2017 - 28th May 2017

Lifeboat 2020:
13th January 2020 - 20th March 2020