The Ferryman "without a doubt the most powerful play I have seen since [King Lear]"

Posted on 9 March 2018

Usually when one arrives at the theatre to receive the news that the play they are going into has a running time of 3 hours, made up of 3 acts and just one 15-minute interval, they become wary and numerous questions flood their mind. This was exactly how it felt upon turning up at the Gielgud Theatre to see The Ferryman, but when I came back through those doors it was the furthest thing from my mind, all my questions had been answered. The play didn’t drag nor did I find myself getting restless, not that these were the things that foremost in my thoughts following the electricity that consumed the theatre after the final scene.

The play follows the story of a stereotypically big Irish family, preparing for the harvest in the year 1981, the political state of Ireland a major theme. Now, this theme has been touched upon in many stories, but this certainly humanises the struggle for the everyman, and even more so for the Carney family, having had a past of being IRA sympathisers. Jez Butterworth strings this theme throughout the story and interweaves it into the diverse characters, over three generations.

With a prologue and three long acts, the story has lots of room to breathe, the first hour is mostly dedicated to getting to know the many characters, which was executed brilliantly. It’s quite typical for acts dedicated to long introductions and setting the story to be a little boring but this wasn’t the case, each character full of life, and the family bonds strong and believable. Talent shone from younger and older actors, including a beautifully behaved baby.

For the most part, it was an easy watch, the buckets of information easily swallowed as it was doused with humour. It was without a doubt the most powerful play I have seen since the last play I saw directed by Sam Mendes. There are a lot of shows on the West End stages that make big impacts, but little of them have you leaving the theatre stunned into silence after the climax. It’s no mystery as to why this production is snatching up five stars from all the critics in town. This is definitely one you want to rush out to see and considering you can get tickets fairly cheap, you have no excuse to give it a miss.

Booking until 9 May, you can get The Ferryman tickets here.


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By Jade Ali

A love for theatre stemmed from my love of literature and music, but the West End on my doorstep opened up a whole new appreciation and passion for all things stage-y