The Last Leviathans

by Barrie Wheatley 


A new drama about the fateful 1866 voyage of the whaler, THE DIANA, based on the diary of Charles Edward Smith.

The Diana, the first Hull whaler to be fitted with a steam engine, set sail for the Arctic in 1866 with 51 men on board, captained by John Gravill, an experienced whale man.  Because of unseasonably hard weather the ship was quickly marooned in the ice in Baffin Bay.  It became ‘gripped’ there for many months and the fuel ran out.  The crew had to exist on starvation rations and scurvy and frost bite affected the men. On Christmas day Captain Gravill died; his illness brought on by the stress of his command.  Eventually the battered ship managed to break free and sailed into Hull on April 26 1867, fourteen months after setting sail.  A further fourteen men had been lost.

This new play, by Hull writer, Barrie Wheatley, tells the story of The Diana through the eyes of five of her crew: Captain Gravill, Surgeon Charles Edward Smith, first mate George Clarke, harpooner Bill Reynolds and cook Joe Mitchell. A single female cast member plays the multiple roles of their wives and sweethearts.  The play dramatises their experiences at sea, set against the background of their lives in mid nineteenth century Hull.  Through drama, music, dance, physical theatre and multi media an experienced cast of six actors bring this amazing story of courage and endurance to life in a heart warming and entertaining way.