Ferryman

Jerusalem is one of those plays that are universally acknowledged as being excellent. I caught it at The Royal Court for .10p standing, and managed to slip into an unoccupied seat by timing it right and keeping an eye out for latecomers. When these positive opinions are so universally upheld about a piece of art, I find myself wanting to fly in the face of them, knowing that all art is subjective: “Oh yeah, I saw Jerusalem. It didn’t do it for me.” It’s tempting, and I’ve heard people try it. But it’s bullshit as far as I’m concerned. I adored Jerusalem. There was depth and dimension in the work, there was terrific immediacy nuance and presence in the performances. I am part of the throng of people blithering on about how glad they are to have caught it. It was a tour de force. I still haven’t been blown away like Rylance managed to blow me (ooer missus, no he’s not Spacey) at the end, as he called on the old Gods, and made us all part of his summons.

I’ve been wary of going to Ferryman. It’s another long form play by the same author – Jez Butterworth – and this time the word of mouth is more complicated. “Too long” “Paddywhacking” etc are getting thrown about by actor friends. We’re a demanding lot. But I’d have been pissed off if I didn’t catch it, after loving Jerusalem so much. And my major stopping point was price. It’s the perfect opportunity tonight. Dean is in it and can get me house seats. Even if house seats are much more than my habitual maximum price, they’re still a bit cheaper, and well placed.

I met Dean last millennium, when 23 of us strode into the striplit cupboards of the old Guildhall School of Music and Drama and learnt how to not be so full of shit on stage. We learnt ensemble. Now with my grey beard, more depth, a bit less frantic energy, and a voice two octaves lower, I’m meeting up with some of the other bright eyed kids from that ensemble and we’re celebrating Deano in the West End, while catching each other and this interesting piece of work.

Too much time has passed since we were the kids from Fame. Life has pulled the 23 of us in all sorts of different directions, but those three years together were intense and they inevitably forge invisible strings. I’m worse than many at staying in touch, but I’ve always kept a loose sense of how people are doing. I’ve seen more of Dean than others because he’s still rattling around in the bottom of the crucible so we inevitably bang into one another, sometimes on purpose. I’m going to love watching him in this, just as I’m looking forward to getting a drink with him and Carla and Nick and Eva afterwards.


Yeah it’s great. I suspect it’ll run and run. It’s a bold and big web of humanity cast over a story, and there is an ensemble of powerhouses pushing in the same direction. Everyone gets a crack at the whip. There are two stories at the heart, but so many more stories in the evening. The supernatural is not so front and centre as it was in Jerusalem, but still runs through it and it’s about love and pain and time and family. It’s beautiful and sad and human. What a lovely night. Here’s a crap selfie of us all.

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Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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