The Ferryman / our review
a Marvellous STORY
Feb 28th, 2019
The Ferryman: Feast or famine?
I'll be honest, the biggest draw for me to see The Ferryman was baby Bobby! Playwright Jez Butterworth insisted this role be played by a real-life child rather than a doll, claiming that the audience will have a more visceral response to the idea of family. Judging by the collective "aaaaaaw" in the audience when Bobby makes an appearance, I suspect he was right. Four infants alternate this role and they are all making their Broadway debut - and making history, as these are the youngest performers ever recorded on Broadway.
Nonetheless, The Ferryman is far more than cute babies, having made its way to Broadway after great success in London. Butterworth's new play takes place in the Carney home in 1981, a farmhouse filled with family and love, and ongoing chores to ensure everyone participates in the festivities of the annual feast. In the background, he highlights a hunger strike by prisoners, desperate to be recognized as political prisoners by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His writing is an exceptional reveal of this era, and we can relate to the idea of a family just trying to get on with their lives amidst the political power struggles. When an unexpected guest arrives the Carney family cracks.
The central focus of the story is the feast, a celebration of the winter being over and the first spring harvest. Rob Howell's scenic design epitomizes the essence of a full home. As the narrative unfolds we realize it is not just the pots and pans overloaded with clutter but our characters too, each in need of a spring clean. Nick Powell (Sound Design and Original Music) has captured the essence of 1980s Northern Ireland, interspersing modern music and Irish classics. It sets the tone brilliantly as we hear the contrast from one generation to the next, the contrast of an outside world creeping in. It is not just the sounds of music infiltrating the country folk but a new beat that has hit Ireland. Butterworth's characters range in age and political outlooks which is a fine setting for a family affair.
The Ferryman has twenty-one well-rounded characters feeding this marvellous story and director Sam Mendes has ensured not a beat has been missed. Be sure to get your tickets to see this feast on Broadway!
View our show pages for more information about The Ferryman, Bernard B Jacobs Theater.