After a critically acclaimed run in London, where it won three Olivier Awards, Jez Butterworth’s ("Jerusalem") new Northern Irish drama makes its Broadway debut. Directed by Sam Mendes ("Cabaret"). (Previous Reviews) More…
Northern Ireland, 1981. The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. But this year they will be interrupted by a visitor.
"The best play of the century thus far, setting a high mark to match...Thrillingly, enthrallingly breathtaking. You emerge onto 45th Street stunned, as if you’ve been off in an altogether different world. Because you have...To give proper credit to the large cast is impractical; just about everyone is superb...Most impressive, though, is the text. Butterworth goes on at length, but with never a line or word that doesn’t contribute to the whole...A new, instant, and monumental classic." Full Review
"A rollicking, moving, enveloping masterpiece, an emphatic herald of the strength and power of original playwriting...Do whatever you can to see it; much-loved relations, prepare to be sold. Rarely is theater so beautifully written, brilliantly acted and directed, and impressively mounted...A feast of dramatic forms and shapes...So full of textured, watchable characters telling stories of modern times and times of yore, that one leaves the play wishing to watch hours more of it." Full Review
"Butterworth’s script is rich and varied...never slackening in pace. For such grim subject matter, it’s a play packed full of humour thanks to the playwright’s deft portrait of this enthralling clan of three-dimensional characters. Sam Mendes’ production is flawless, giving everyone room to breathe, yet exploding with a wild and joyous energy when the Carneys decide to let down their hair...Butterworth’s new work can lay claim to being one of the great plays of the 21st century." Full Review
“Carney was played with detailed nuance by Considine as he held a seriously fierce ensemble together while his life unfolded along with his very large extended family...The cliffhanger the audience is left with makes the already astonishing show worth it...From acting to sets, to sound, to lighting to a superb script, and of course the master direction of Mendes, I have no doubt it will repeatedly be recognized in the coming years as one of the great literary works of the century.” Full Review
"Slowly secrets emerge, and in its length of three plus hours, the audience is enticed by the lusty, hard-drinking family...Choreography, lighting, and sound design play large parts in heightening the submerged passions and sudden drama of Jez Butterworth's memorable work. Crime, loss, and violence are unveiled secrets with this family burdened with memories of the bloody Irish rebellion, guilt, demands for justice, and an explosive redemption ties up with ubiquitous humanity." Full Review
"This brilliant production...This is not so much a play as it is a communal aria. The writing is choral. The characters move in and out like wild folk dancers slipping in and out of the light. Each of the performances is crafted to perfection, and Sam Mendes direction insures that everyone has their spotlight and their glowing place by the hearth in rotation...Butterworth knits characters into characters, then into stories...then into worlds that are larger than the stage that holds them." Full Review
"Jez Butterworth's 'The Ferryman' is not a play. It is an experience, a rare experience whose aftermath will linger for days, if not weeks, in the minds of those who see it. Butterworth takes the audience into the heart of a loving family in a story that veers off into ghastly violence. He questions if it will ever end, but the title, itself, a reference to Charon who, in Greek mythology, ferries the dead across the River Styx to Hades, hints that deaths will continue." Full Review
“May be Butterworth's most ambitious work to date, and it is, to my mind, the first that instantly looks like a masterpiece. Time will tell if that judgment sticks, but, for now, one can enjoy a drama that, in its breadth, canny construction, and sleight-of-hand storytelling towers over everything else currently on Broadway...In Sam Mendes' production -- masterfully orchestrating an ensemble of 21, plus a baby and a live rabbit -- character after character leaves an indelible mark." Full Review
"A generosity of substance and spirit rarely seen on the stage anymore...Directed with sweeping passion and meticulous care by Sam Mendes...This is theater as charged and cluttered and expansive as life itself. And the three and a quarter hours and 21 parts required to tell its story barely seem long enough to contain all it has to give us...By the end of this magnificent drama, Butterworth has connected the contradictions with a skill that takes the breath away." Full Review
“'The Ferryman,' directed by Sam Mendes, is essential theatre-going…Butterworth makes the play's three hours and 15 minutes fly as black comedy mixes with darker tragedy, familial bonds clash with unrequited desires, and music, dance, confessional sanctity, and brutality intrude into a mashup of politics, poetry, profanity, and prophecy…There are, of course, contrived and overdone elements…Regardless, even people with colds hold back their coughs…’The Ferryman’ is theater at its best.” Full Review
"The breathtakingly good, devastating drama by Jez Butterworth that instantly kicks the Broadway season into high gear...It is most deeply a beautifully realized portrait of an extended Irish family living, and loving, through the long aftermath of a tragedy. The play is almost as exuberantly funny as it is powerfully theatrical, and its marvelous cast infuses the play with such life-affirming light...'The Ferryman' explores with a theatrical vitality and depth as painful as it is unforgettab... Full Review
"The whole thrilling production seems alive, as few Broadway shows do, with the clutter and scope of reality...'The Ferryman' never drags, in part because Butterworth continually shifts and expands the play’s focus...At once a romance, a thriller and a multigenrational family drama, 'The Ferryman' is also more than those things...A seismic experience at the theater...You sense the rumbles and you feel the shaking as you wait for this magnificent and harrowing play to crack open." Full Review
“This is storytelling at its most intricate and expansive. There isn’t a moment that should be sliced away, nor a visual you’d want to miss. It’s a delicate creation...’The Ferryman’ has so many levels...each enhancing the other like flavors in a Jameson Irish whiskey, blending aromatically for all to savor...As powerful as anything you have seen in years...All of the cast and design crew is perfection, literally filling the stage with authenticity and dimension that can’t be ignored.” Full Review
“So compelling that its three-plus hours absolutely flew by. The seamless blend of the personal with the political, the comic with the dramatic, the leisurely storytelling with the sudden shocks give it almost Shakespearean proportions...Butterworth makes almost every character a vivid, memorable presence...The playwright never hesitates to pause for a good tale, a dance or a song. The mostly British cast is so universally strong...Mendes never lets our attention lag.” Full Review
"Butterworth's play is certainly epic and obviously sprawling, hypnotizing us over the course of three acts. But those words really only skim the surface of this undeniably thrilling theatrical experience, so here are some better ones: 'compelling,' 'heartbreaking,' and just 'bloody good'...Cunningly directed by Sam Mendes as a thriller disguised as a melodrama, 'The Ferryman' creates an uncommonly specific world in staggering detail...The best play running on Broadway." Full Review
"A production that embraces comedy, drama, and melodrama in equal measure...It is richly imagined, smartly directed by Sam Mendes, and smashingly performed by a cast of 22 adults, teenagers, children, and one infant...It is all so incredibly Dickensian, yet all so true-to-life...Butterworth has outdone himself here. A brilliant wordsmith...This is an ensemble work in every sense of the word...An absolutely sensational theatrical experience." Full Review
"Admittedly, the prospect of sitting for three hours and 20 minutes (with one intermission and one brief pause) can sound daunting. But odds are you will be so involved in Butterworth's gripping family and political drama, you'll never once check your watch, which is cannily set during the height of the Northern Irish hunger strikes in 1981. Yet as brilliant as what's on the page - and I believe the less you know going in the better - it's what on the stage that really makes the difference." Full Review
"A crackling thriller woven into the vibrant canvas of a character-driven portrait of big-family...A work almost bursting with joy and celebration, with dance and song exploding out of fierce cultural identity, and with rambunctious humor and eccentricity...Mendes and Butterworth inject a chill into seemingly lighthearted moments, steadily ratcheting up the suspense until a closing scene that leaves you shocked and breathless...This is rich, full-throated theater not to be missed." Full Review
“Butterworth's richly stocked play is a gorgeous sprawling yarn that encompasses the entire spectrum of human existence...May seem long, but...the story is so engrossing, the characters so engaging, and the suspense so foreboding, you'll be left wanting more...Each member of this splendid ensemble delivers finely crafted performances...'The Ferryman' stands out as a classic all on its own!” Full Review
"Jez Butterworth’s masterpiece 'The Ferryman,' superbly directed by Sam Mendes, has transferred. This smashing production confronts important themes about politics and violence for our times, for all times...Beautifully staged with the clutter of fun and bounty of children’s drawings, the production convincing shows us a convivial, lively family...Mendes has shepherded the actors to terrific performances and created a potent, masterful production that must not be missed. " Full Review
"This beautifully written tragedy strikes gold on every level. It reminds us of theater’s power to show us who we are – and who we can, and cannot, be...The play doesn’t take sides. Its sympathies lie with the human beings who take part...Butterworth is weaving a crowded tapestry with room for all strains of human nature...Mendes’ sharp-edged but big-hearted direction aided by a superb creative team leads 'The Ferryman' to the pinnacle of the Broadway season." Full Review
"Three hours and 15 minutes have never flown by as quickly in a theatre as they do at 'The Ferryman,' nor felt more ecstatic and full...This is the rare kind of play that manages to successfully capture the totality of human existence through the lens of a single event, or culmination of events..Ecstatic and richly thrillingly...‘The Ferryman’ is a titanic dramatic achievement, and a must-see event of the season. In short: a masterpiece without present peer on Broadway.” Full Review
"'The Ferryman' is a searing social document...A riveting work of art...Butterworth weaves an enthralling tapestry of melodrama, wryness, and suspense...Butterworth and Mendes have masterminded 'The Ferryman' for maximum wallop, and the actors, to a person, are brilliant executors...One of the most ferociously rewarding climaxes of my playgoing experience. That sensation, of a tension released by consummate storytelling, is what a theater lover lives for." Full Review
"On Broadway this season, there’s unlikely to be a family drama teeming with more life than this...A deeply personal story on to an account of the divided Northern Ireland of the 1970s...It’s a big play: there are 21 speaking characters...This sense of overflowing dramatic richness is perfect for Broadway...But the production’s epic sense of scale, with Rob Howell’s looming domestic kitchen interior filling the stage, is offset by the intimacy and detail of the performances." Full Review
"There’s no denying that 'The Ferryman' is epic, and undeniably Butterworth’s best play...A wrenching family drama, whose most moving moments are its most spare and most intimate...Director Sam Mendes is a master at orchestrating chaotic scenes...You’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat during even the most sedate scenes...It ends so ferociously, in such a glorious burst of action, predictions, and promises, that a follow-up would not be unwelcome." Full Review
See it if you want brilliant writing, brilliant staging, brilliant acting, and brilliant craft. There's so much joy and humanity in this play. Bravo!
Don't see it if you consider 3+ hours "too long" — it's worth every minute and every penny!
See it if you want to see the best Broadway has to offer right now, transplanted beautifully from Britain. The story is profound & educational.
Don't see it if you only want fluffy entertaining theatre. This can be agonizing but very wonderful and you will learn a great deal.
See it if you want to see a brilliant play that raises the bar on B'way. The story is gripping and epic; the characters are well developed and unique
Don't see it if if you have trouble with Irish expressions and accents; have no interest in Irish culture and history.
See it if You possibly can. It’s a sweeping, riveting play, telling a gripping story, told by a huge cast, all brilliant.
Don't see it if You have a weak bladder. It’s over 3 hours. But it’s so good, it’s worth wearing Depends for!
Also A unforgettable night in the theater. Huge, epic!
See it if A grand, epic Irish family drama with a fantastic cast, that goes by in a flash despite its length. A Jez Butterworth masterpiece.
Don't see it if You have a hard time with Irish accents or find the idea of three plus hours intolerable— but it is worth every minute so give it a shot!
See it if you want to see an amazing performance, that will leave you feeling you've witnessed something special in the theater. A masterpiece!
Don't see it if There is no reason not to. Its one of the best plays to hit broadway in years.
See it if You want to see an impeccable ensemble perform an absorbing, richly developed clan of Irish folk and outstanding, fluid staging from Mendes.
Don't see it if You like your theatre light, frothy, short, and sweet. This piece can be menacing.
Also Easily the best play I’ve ever seen.
See it if Wow. Brilliant writing in the hands of large extraordinary cast in which everyone had something significant to do (even the baby).
Don't see it if You can’t get your ears around a brogue.
See it if I left the theater energized -- it was so powerful. Really and truly, not to be missed.
Don't see it if Irish dialects are hard for you to interpret.
Also It was so so good.
See it if You want to see a great production, with a great cast, of a beautifully structured and written play.
Don't see it if Unless you do not wish to see a play set amidst "the troubles" in Ireland, there is no reason not to see this play.
See it if You love great acting, want a tight story that is over 3 hours without a wasted moment, want to emerge “shaken” and moved. Extraordinary.
Don't see it if You have trouble keeping track of large casts, don’t like family dramas, or need constant, big, moments to keep you interested.
See it if You want to see an epic, relevant story told in stage by wonderful actors. This play is one of the best I have seen. Its 3+ hours flew by.
Don't see it if You do not like plays that include children drinking wee bits of alcohol or children and elders swearing.
See it if You enjoy drama at its best You are ready to experience intelligent well written dialogue
Don't see it if You have difficulty understanding Irish accents. Have difficulty with a play that runs over 3 hours.
See it if to see a show that can only be described as theatre at its best! Spellbinding storytelling! Exquisite character development/plot/set/lights.
Don't see it if I can’t imagine anyone not liking this show. It’s long, 3.25 hours but with such a great performance that time flew by for me.
See it if you like productions that suck you into the action, love fantastic writing and acting or a sucker for family and/or crime drama.
Don't see it if you can't sit still for 2 hours (second half is long) or are adverse to violence, regardless of if it is necessary.
See it if If you are a theater lover, this is a don't miss. Flawless production of a powerful, relevant play. Charming, moving...superb acting!
Don't see it if Some northern Irish dialect and violence. Other than that...go see it! (even if only for Butterworth's writing (and cute kid actors).
See it if You want to see what is likely the best new play in years. You love stories, characters, and some of the best acting in a long time.
Don't see it if Sitting for 3+ hours bothers you or if you can’t understand Irish accents.
See it if Good story moves along and keeps you involved. Wanted to see the path the characters would take. Don't feel like you are there for three hou
Don't see it if If anything over 90 minutes is not for you.
See it if if you like multiple story lines, questions of family & humanity, dance & love, despair & hope, loss & ritual. Tremendous acting. Wit.
Don't see it if if you can't sit for +3hours, although it flies by. And, the accents take some time to adapt to.
See it if you want to see really great acting and staging. I thought it was wonderful. 3 hours flew by. Great set, wonderful cast, intelligent script.
Don't see it if you have trouble listening to actors with accents. They can be a little challenging at time. Or if you can't sit for over 3 hours. It's long
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