The Ferryman, Jez Butterworth

I was lucky enough to see Jez Butterworth’s new play The Ferryman last month at the Royal Court Theatre in London. It was a highly anticipated production, with many expectations raised due to the success of his previous writing, and the prowess of the Royal Court. Nevertheless, this play exceeded my expectations: I thought it was brilliant.

As I settled down in my seat before the performance started, I was worried the writing would be too profound or self-indulgent, but actually it wasn’t at all. I luckily know a bit about the history of the Irish Troubles and the IRA – the context of the play – which I felt helped me get into the plot and characters quickly, although I think it still would have been understandable and easy to follow even without any knowledge. The history of Ireland is a fascinating topic, and was incorporated brilliantly into a plot that had me guessing about what would happen next throughout. It was great writing – yep, Butterworth yet again has written a great play!

The production itself was brilliant too, including the set which was gorgeous! With the play all in one setting (except the opening scene) a lot of time was put into the one set. It was the attention to small details that caught my attention most – such as children’s drawings pinned to the walls of the home – making it feel like a real family home. The stage was a big space, which was important with such a large cast, but very well adapted just by moving the furniture around, as well as the stairs for characters to enter, exit and stand on when not directly involved with the action.


The performances given by the actors were exceptional too, particularly for such a big cast with so many very young actors (who all did great jobs giving some very believable performances). Paddy Considine (Quinn Carney) and Laura Donnelly (Caitlin Carney), as the key protagonists, gave especially great performances: it was emotional and passionate, as well as mysterious (which kept me guessing throughout!). What was particularly impressive to me was all the casts’ Irish accents – although many of the actors had an Irish background, I actually thought all of them were Irish (which wasn’t the case!).

This was a brilliant play, and I’m so grateful that I got to see it in its original form at the Royal Court Theatre – and on its last day too! It has now transferred to Central London in the West End, and I would highly recommend going to see it for some excellent theatre.


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