The Ferryman

The Ferryman. The Play

The Ferryman unfolds over a single day and night, it is a leisurely, dense drama, played in three acts (with one interval and an extended pause) across over three hours. But though it takes its time, it doesn't feel long; on the contrary, like a good TV boxed set drama, you want to keep watching, as we meet the Carney family in 1981 Armagh preparing for that year's harvest festival. But the past is coming back to haunt them, when the body of patriarch Quinn's missing brother turns up after 10 years. Quinn's reclusive wife has retreated into herself, while the brother's wife Caitlin and her son have moved in with them.
Sam Mendes' alternately boisterous and reflective production is teaming with life (plus a death or two), and has the bonus of a real baby, bunny rabbit and even a live goose. That gives it a stunning sense of verisimilitude; but the cracking dialogue and the richly detailed and finely etched performances of the entire cast, led by film actor Paddy Considine in his confident but unassuming stage debut as Quinn, make you feel like you are living inside the play, not just watching it.