|The company. Photo: Joan Marcus|
© 2018 Joan Mar
By Jez Butterworth
Directed by Sam Mendes.
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
By Lauren Yarger
It's 1981 in Northern Ireland and the happy Carney clan has gathered for the harvest, but the local priest (Charles Dale) and an ominous visitor from the IRA (Stuart Graham) threaten their happy celebrations. The family finally discovers what happened to their beloved Seamus, who disappeared more 20 years ago, leaving behind his wife, Caitlyn (Laura Donnelly) and son, Oison (Rob Malone).
They stayed on with Seamus's brother Quinn (Paddy Considine) and his invalid wife, Mary (Genevieve O'Reilly) and their seven children (one of whom is a baby who charms the entire audience). Filling out the household, in which playwright Jez Butterworth evokes the best of the eclectic family of You Can't Take It with You, are humorous Uncle Pat (an engaging Mark Lambert), not to be confused with Aunt Pat (Dearbhla Molloy) and Aunt Maggie Far Away (Fionnula Flanagan), the elderly aunt who entertains the children with her adventures in other times and places as she fades in and out of dementia while parked just off the action in her wheelchair.
A slow-witted Englishman named Tom Kettle (Justin Edwards) and some visiting Corcoran cousins, including Shane (Tom Glynn-Carney), who might have ties with Seamas's disappearance, add to the tension -- and the crowd on stage. Rounding out the ensemble are Dean Ashton, Glynis Bell, Peter Bradbury, Trevor Harrison Braun, Sean Frank Coffey, Will Coombs, Gina Costigan, Fra Fee, Carly Gold, Cooper Gomes, Holly Gould, Carla Langley, Matilda Lawler, Conor MacNeill, Michael McArthur, Willow McCarthy, Colin McPhillamy, Bella May Mordus, Griffin Osborne, Brooklyn Shuck, Glenn Speers, Rafael West Vallés, and Niall Wright.
Sam Mendes directs the Royal Court Theatre production with excellence, setting an undercurrent of unrest despite the seemingly happy existence of the family, marked by singing, dancing (choreography by Scarlett Mackmin) and cute animals trained by William Berloni. But inside, dark secrets threaten to cloud the external. The ferryman, after all, is a reference to Caron, the mythologcal transporter of souls across the River Styx. A surprise twist at the end of the three-hour, 15 minute run will have you gasping.
Rob Howell helps create the atmosphere with scenic and costume design, aided by Peter Mumford;s lighting design), Nick Powell's sound design and original music.
The Ferryman opened at The Royal Court in May 2017 and was the fastest selling play in the theater’s history. The sold-out show transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. In London, The Ferryman won three 2018 Olivier Awards, including Best New Play (marking Butterworth’s second Olivier win), Best Actress Donnelly and Best Director Mendes (marking his fourth Olivier win).
The Ferryman runs at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., NYC. theferrymanbroadway.com
Tim Hoare (associate director), Benjamin Endsley Klein (resident director), Campbell Young Associates (hair, wigs and makeup design), Terry King (UK fight director), Thomas Schall (US fight director), Majella Hurley (UK dialect coach), and Deborah Hecht (US dialect coach).
-- God's name taken in vain