Re-review: The Ferryman, Gielgud Theatre

Just a couple of weeks left to catch The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre, and it remains entirely worth it

“That is what it takes. Thatis the cost of freedom. The price is unimaginable. And here is a man who knows that. And is willing to pay it.”

Time is so, so relative in theatres isn’t it – the mere thought of a running time that exceeds three hours can send chills running down the spine. But sometimes it is a 70 minute show that can feel like a cruel eternity and in the arms of a brilliant play, you barely even notice the hours passing by, even with Edwardian-levels of leg-room available to you. 

With just a couple of weeks left to catch The Ferryman in the West End and the chance to see Rosalie Craig in a non-musical role for once, the offer to return to the Gielgud was one I couldn’t refuse. And though it is the third time I’ve seen the show, it remains a phenomenal piece of theatre in which Jez Butterworth manages that not-inconsiderable feat of making time fly.

Review #1 and review #2 have covered much of what I think of the play, suffice to add that Craig and Owen McDonnell are both very good as the new leads, Caitlin and Quinn Carney, and nothing has been lost of the intimacy of the close-knit family feel that is so essential to Sam Mendes’ production. 

What really struck me this time though was Butterworth’s exploration of radicalisation. Not just the way in which extremist viewpoints are filtered through family connections and passed down the generations, but how the simple existence of a ‘past’ is never-ending fuel for a fire that few seem to want to put out. 

It will be interesting to see how that message will be interpreted once the play opens on Broadway later this year, if it chimes louder with American audiences who are less close to the actual history of the play. Either way, I’d recommend making one last visit to Derry if you can.

Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes (with an interval and a pause)
Photos: Johan Persson
The Ferryman is booking at the Gielgud Theatre until 19th May

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