Wednesday, 9 August 2017


I can't believe I haven't written a theatre post since March (and even then that was a sponsored one). I think that was part of the problem really, I fell out of love with writing about plays because I had a specific obligation to review them and however much I enjoyed watching them, don't get me wrong, and I'll never stop being grateful for any opportunity to experience more shows, it inevitably became a much more methodical process for me instead of emotional. After returning from my trip to Japan, I took a break from seeing anything for a while. I knew from the fact that watching Andrew Scott's acclaimed rendition of Hamlet only resulted in extreme fatigue and a sore behind in my case, somehow and somewhere along the way, the magic of theatre had been lost to me and that thought was extremely devastating. So I stopped going. I took a break. It's been a good few months now, and last night I came home from seeing The Ferryman at Gielgud theatre when I felt that long buried yet still all too familiar urge to talk about it – to write about it. About what I'd just seen, experienced, and most importantly: felt.

To begin with, why The Ferryman out of the other plays that are currently on, you may ask? Well, earlier on in the year when the play was on at the Royal Court Theatre, someone mentioned that David Dawson was in the audience one night and you're naturally inclined to favour your favourite actor's choices right? If that wasn't enough, The Ferryman then went on to become the fastest-selling play in the history of the Royal Court and consequently transferred to the Gielgud theatre in the West End. Oh and did I mention, the cast include's Dunkirk's own Peter Dawson aka Tom Glynn-Carney? Your gal is just a teensy bit obsessed with that film at the moment. I was already quite familiar with Jez Butterworth's Mojo having previously watched it's 2013 revival at the Harold Pinter Theatre with Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint, Colin Morgan, and Daniel Mays, and also the 1997 film version with Aidan Gillen and Andy Serkis. The Ferryman definitely feels like a Jez Butterworth play through and through though I did prefer it to Mojo. For example, the whole political gang theme is back this time in the form of the IRA, but I found this play to be so much more dimensional and full of heart. 

The Ferryman takes place in the Carney household in rural Ireland, 1981, their large family (and I mean like, eight children level of large, wheww) busy in preparation for the yearly harvest. For starters, the ensemble cast is outstanding, I was especially impressed by the child actors in this play, in a constant flurry of activity and dialogue, I often wondered how they're able to remember their cues. There's even a real newborn baby on the stage a couple of times and he is so well-behaved, it's mind boggling. Some live animals make an appearance too, in fact just a few days ago I happened to hop on the tube with the goose who was on the way with it's owner to the matinee show. I've never been so starstruck in my life, haha. What starts off as a light-hearted and entertaining peek into their family dynamics is turned upside down with the news that one of their long-lost relatives has been found dead. Of course, problems start snowballing after this revelation and discourse breaks through the previously happy family. 

An interesting paradox that this play brought up is how ever-present in other people's lives a missing person can be. Also how human beings naturally long for closure even though the process usually only inevitably brings about more pain and suffering. The loss effects each family member differently and each cast member plays it to devastating effect. Paddy Considine (who I'd previously only seen on Peaky Blinders as a villain and is miles away from that role here) delivers a powerhouse performance as the father and head of the family, Quinn Carney (I can't believe that this is his stage debut, wow). Laura Donnelly (Outlander) and Genevieve O'Reilly (Rogue One) play the two central female characters whose roles I really can't talk about without spoiling anything but it was truly amazing what they did with them. Together with Paddy they explore the tragedy of unspoken love, an issue amplified in different ways by the strong supporting cast. For such a large cast, it's brilliant how important and impactful each character's role is. I mentioned the younger actors so it would be rude not to divulge a little about Tom Glynn-Carney's performance. Without any spoilers about his role in the story, he is a stand-out, striking and all swagger, a ticking time bomb that had me holding my breath.

I walked out of Gielgud Theatre that night with a renewed sense of marvel at smart writing and brilliant actors, The Ferryman has knocked off Angels in America as my favourite play I've seen this year. Running for over three hours with two intervals, it's a lengthy play though I did not once feel it at all which is a huge feat in my eyes as I'm usually quite a restless viewer. Their run has just been extended till January 2018 due to demand so there really is no excuse for you to miss this fantastic production. Buy, beg, borrow, steal a ticket. Go go go.

Tickets and more info can be found here.

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