IT IS THE world’s most infamous maritime disaster.

More than 1,500 people died after the Titanic struck an iceberg on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

But a new play being performed in Southampton this week aims to strip away the legends around the doomed liner and tell the story in the words of those who survived the sinking of the Titanic or had a part to play in events.

Aptly performed in the old magistrates’ court, now a room dedicated to the Titanic within the SeaCity Museum, 41N50W uses the testimony of the 82 people who gave evidence to a US Senate Inquiry days after the disaster in 1912.

Robert Neal Marshall’s production, directed by Norma Atallah, is named after the last reported position of Titanic and cleverly uses its setting within the old court to draw the audience in, making you feel almost as though you were at the original inquiry in New York.

Michael Vivian plays inquisitor-cum-narrator Senator William Alden Smith, chairing the inquiry.

He quizzes the witnesses (portrayed by the other actors), from survivor Lutie Davis Parrish, whose first complaint to the inquiry is about the size of her cabin, to White Star managing director J Bruce Ismay, who ordered that the Titanic reduce its lifeboats from 48 to 16 to accommodate its luxurious features.

By using the words of the very people who were involved, the cast of five wrings more compassion, anguish and controversy out of the disaster than any dramatic adaptation.

It is a real achievement that through able performances, some well-chosen sound effects and the actual words of those who survived, 41N50W can bring alive once again that most well-known of catastrophes.

41N50W is on at the SeaCity Museum at 7.30pm every night until Saturday.

James Franklin