The Ferryman is the play that we as a group saw on Monday July 17 at the Gielgud Theatre. It was directed by Sam Mendes and written Jez Butterworth. It was performed at the Royal Court Theatre before it moved to the Gielgud.
The play stars Patrick Considine as the character, Quinn Carney. Quinn is a farmer, who owns a house that he inherited from his family. He lives with his wife, his children, his Uncle Pat, his aunts Maggie and Pat as well as his sister-in-law, Caitlin. Quinn has a field hand in Tom Kettle, who has helped on the farm with Quinns family for years. The play is set during harvest, in Rural Derry in 1981. After seeing this play I had to take a night of sleep so that I could think about what I had just seen. From the beginning I was drawn in by how well everyone in the play performed. They all knew what they wanted and they all were very present. The farmhouse setting worked for me because I grew up on a farm in the 1990s, about 10 years after this plays setting. The director, Sam Mendes did an excellent job with the setting up how it was harvest and how this family is a farming family and has been for years. It hit home for me because my family had been in the farming business for a very long time and seeing that performed onstage was very pleasant because I had never seen a farming setting onstage before. There was also a time in the play where I noticed that every character in the play had their very own story to tell. I felt that if Butterworth wanted to, he could write a play about every character because they all had some kind of story to tell. The play made me want to know about every character, for they all brought something to the table and to keep the play going.
The play ended on a very tense moment for me because I felt like they were setting up a sequel to the play which worked for me as well because I felt there was a lot more story to tell. There were some qualities of the play that did not work for me though. I thought parts of the ending happened a little too quickly and I felt that Butterworth just wrote that ending so he could end the play and not make it too long. I understood that it was time for the play to end but I thought some parts of the ending happened a little bit too quick and I felt that the play could have continued a little while longer. Quinn being in the IRA worked for me because I felt that it gave Quinn a dark side of his character. He is not just the regular farmer who goes out into the combine and once he is finished in the field he goes home. There is more to him that meets the eye and him working for terrorists before the play starts really worked for me.
The lighting was very exceptional and it worked beautifully. Once the lights went on and they made it seem that it was dawn it clicked for me because it brought me back home to when I was a kid. I would get up early in the morning during harvest to see my father and my grandfather working in the combines. Speaking of combines, the use of background combine sounds was another quality that worked for me because of the same reason as the lighting to symbolize dawn and of harvest. I would also, during harvest, hear the sound of combines and tractors running all across the farm where I grew up at. Those two qualities were qualities that I had never seen or heard on a theatre stage before and they both worked brilliantly for me. One scene that also worked for me was the scene where Quinns two sons and their cousins, who were there to assist Quinn with his harvest, were talking amongst themselves before they went to bed. It reminded me of a time where I would also stay up a little later than normal and talk to my two cousins. They would occasionally help on the farm with my dad and my grandfather and once they were finished they would be around me and we would talk amongst ourselves. So really after seeing this play, I can say that it really worked for me because of how it brought me back to my childhood days of growing up on a farm.
Once I saw the farmhouse I was immediately drawn in and after seeing the lights and hearing the sound of combines, I knew that this play was a very different play. A play which I had never seen before and the plot kept me interested to boot, since every character in the play had some sort of story to tell. Even a character that is mentioned had a story to tell. I can pleasantly say that this play, The Ferryman, worked wonders for me.