Have you earned your coins for the Ferryman?

Whether or not I have earned my coins is a matter that is not up for discussion! What is on the agenda is how magnificent was Sam Mendes’ production of Jez Butterworth’s little pot of gold.

Jez Butterworth never fails to conjure up a roller coaster of emotions throughout a single setting. Granted, the IRA is a heavy topic in itself so one does come prepared (or so I thought). How can I adore, hate and want to shake a character all in one sitting?! With his writing anything is possible. In all honesty The Ferryman left me emotionally drained for a good hour afterwards, where I was in shock as to the progression of the play, with Jez teasing the audience’s conscience and steering the sinking ship in a completely new/very shocking direction. (Can you tell I am trying to give as little away as possible?) – I am not sure I will last very long…
The first time we meet ‘The Carneys” it is a wonderful scene set in the kitchen of a typical and spacious farmhouse. We see two people who appear to be smitten with one another – wouldn’t you be if you danced perfectly with blindfolds on, in sync and giggling the night away. Yeah. You get the picture. These two individuals are in fact ‘In-Law’ siblings. Meet Caitlin Carney played by the gorgeous Laura Donnelly. If anything she is the protagonist, as it is her husband that creates the ambiguous story line. Her husband is Quinn Carney’s brother and so the love triangle begins… Laura plays the part of the beautiful sister-in-law to perfection. She is seen as the mother of the house, the one who cooks and keeps the family together. Similarly to Antigone, the connection of not knowing where a loved one is or the likelihood of finding them alive can drive people to torment. Uncertainty can lead to wanting a strong and deep connection elsewhere. In this case she finds solace in Quinn.
Quinn is played by Paddy Considine who carries the show effortlessly. He captivates the audience and his on stage family we don’t even have to try to like him! We just do!

As a production it was perfect. The casting was faultless and I commend Mendes and his team for debuting over half the cast! Finally some new Irish actors coming on to the scene and in the most epic production too (lucky them). It was evident that the entire cast oozed confidence and their interaction was wonderful to watch. In particular it was a delight to witness the young ‘Carney’ family members acting along side well-established actors with such ease. In terms of a holistic performance the quality was as expected. SPECTACULAR! The cast are harmonious, receptive and incredibly endearing – and yes I include the rabbit! It is clear that they are all aware of the sensitivity of the topic yet they understand Jez’ writing. Bold, brisk, and bloody rude.

Scene it Tip 1) Whatever you’re doing. stop. Go and see The Ferryman. You’ll leave it weeping, confused or just plain starstruck. Don’t forget your coins for a programme.

Scene it Tip 2) Read another Jes Butterworth play. Here’s a good one: The River The link leads to a raving review the guardian did, Laura Donnelly featured in that one too!

Scene it Tip 3) Working with kids and animals really does work! or maybe this was just an anomaly.

 

Both London and Boudica were not calling for space helmets

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Would you ever have imagined that the Globe would decide to have zip wires, abseiling soldiers and a(slightly shouted) rendition of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’? No. Me neither.

What a shame it was to have to sit through such a forced spectacle. At least I managed to; unlike 4 others who fainted (probably due to disbelief or boredom)!

Anyway enough negatives… Gina McKee played the powerful, strong and menacing Boudica. For those of you that do not know the story of Boudica, she was a Welsh/British Celtic Queen, with famous auburn hair, who led an uprising against the Roman Empire’s forces that where occupying England. This all took place in 50 AD something (so not too long ago!). What the play lacked to enlighten its audience with was the fact that Boudica, and her warriors, did in fact conquer the RomanNinth Legion and managed to destroy the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester. With all the rebel forces joined together, they went on to reclaim London and Verulamium (St Albans) albeit with many, many casualties amongst her troops.

Reflected in the play, it was clear to see that Boudica would never voluntarily become a prisoner of war, hence the poison that led to her death, and the representation of a goddess coming down a zip wire wearing a space helmet. I mean, I don’t know about you but it all makes perfect sense. Right?One issue the play highlighted was the cruelty experienced by her daughters. The Romans really were abusers towards them; raped by many of the soldiers and watching their mother whipped and bleed out was disturbingly accurate. To be honest, the only time I could really see genuine pain and true emotion was from this scene. The actors had been, in my opinion, completely miscast. Each actress was a talented individual, but were they threatening? No. Imagine a little French bulldog. Bit ugly and scary but actually so damn cute and cuddly. That’s how I can compare them.

The most exciting thing was to see that “The Weekend’s” hairstyle made an appearance! Repping the style was Abraham Popoola whom I must admit was very, very good. He was perfectly cast. An absolute giant who overpowered both physically and with his quality of acting. He of course stood out like a sore thumb. Misplaced amongst lots of shorties who weren’t threatening at all!

In terms of commenting on the overall show… I don’t really know where to start. It was messy, disorganised and “too-much too-soon”. I personally felt as though I had sat down, expecting the group of middle aged women behind me (with 4 bottles of wine between them) to be the only nuisance. Instead, it was the unintentional hyperbolic sighs, the loud music, the zip wires, and the female playing a male soldier that frustrated me. It turned in to a right laugh with the women behind me as we simply couldn’t understand the goddess in the space suit.

Scene It Tip 1) Explore the Globe’s other Theatre. The Sam Wanamaker has emerging new shows all in a candle lit environment.

Sadly… I don’t really have any advice other than not to watch it if you want authentic theatre.