New Village Arts Tackles Ambitious Task by Producing The Ferryman

The First Production in Their New Remodeled Space and the First U.S Production After Broadway 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Part of the cast of The Ferryman. Photo by Darren Scott

New Village Arts continues to bring it, producing new diverse stories and in this case, the first United States production after Broadway of the British play The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth. It is also the first production in the newly renamed Conrad Prebys Theatre at the Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center.

It is truly inspiring to see a local theatre company embrace the task of doing a piece that is over three hours long with TWO intermissions and a 25-person cast (3 swings and 2 babies included). I was blown away! I also love learning about historic events and different cultures through the beauty of theatre.

Ferryman is based on a true story regarding Quinn Carney (Thomas R Daugherty) former IRA activist living in a farmhouse with his family in rural Northern Ireland. Set in the early eighties during The Troubles, Caitlin (Joy Yvonne Jones) Quinn's sister-in-law, has lived with this family along with her son Oisin, (Giovanny Diaz de Leon) since the murder of her husband ten years ago. Quinn and Caitlin have developed feelings for each other and Mary (Kym Pappas), has become aware and instead of facing the situation, she gets "sick" constantly and stays in bed avoiding the family in general which consists of six kids and a baby. The thing is, because of Quinn's involvement in the IRA, is like a curse that is following him and his family. Muldoon (Max Macke) the current leader is in recruit mode and wants Quinn back through intimidation and threats that include Father Horrigan (Daren Scott), the family, and the town priest. Muldoon has threatened Father Horrigan's sister's life in exchange for information. Things scale up quickly with a lot of whiskeys involved and after Quinn learns that Caitlin is in love with him, as is he, evil takes over and things land by their own weight with a deadly end. 

Part of the cast of The Ferryman. Photo by Darren Scott

There are many creative and histrionic aspects in this work. Kristianne Kurner to being with, as the play's director, also NVA Executive Artistic Director, did a wonderful job guiding all these people through their roles as well as an ensemble, this was an ambitious, challenging task that came through! as they say, "the only way forward, is through" and Kurner took it to the finish line. There is a real goose and a real bunny rabbit that come onstage. And as entertaining as hearing the goose was, and the delight of seeing how gorgeous this animal is, as well as the adorable cuteness of the bunny, My animal lover self gets iffy about using real animals in plays wondering if they are ok and not stressed or overstimulated.

Doug Cumming not only designed a set for this story to live in, but he also created a whole ecosystem where we can all just be with thoughtful detail like coat racks in the doorway, the family's kids' drawings on the walls, plates, pots, pans, etc occupying their space harmoniously. Jojo Siu has a titanic task as well designing clothes for all these people! and it was done marvelously by printing in each one their own flare and persona from the farm-esque overalls, to the dinner clothes, to the harvest celebration outfits. Definitely a thumbs up.

Joy Yvonne Jones and Thomas R Daugherty. Photo by Daren Scott
This piece is full of suspense, Annelise Salazar with light design along with Harper Justus in sound, got that memo and deepened the reactions with their composition. In my perspective, the acting weight is spread out between Thomas R Daugherty and the kids. On one hand, you have the family's children: Mercy (Lucy Zavatterro), Nunu (Nuala) (Priya Richard), Shena (Juliana Scheding), James Joseph (JJ) (Nick Daugherty), Honor (Lena Palke),  Oisin (Giovanny Diaz de Leon) and even baby Bobby Carney (Snow White) and on the other hand, you have the cousins who come in at the end of the second act, Shane (Layth Haddad), Diarmaid (Levani Korganashvili) and Declan Corcoran (Bugz Baltzer). The exchanges are intense and melodic too with each of the actor's styles doing the Irish accent. This weight is dressed by the adults in the plot, Aunt Maggie Faraway (Dagmar Fields), Uncle Patrick Carney (Antonio TJ Johnson),  Aunt Patricia Carney (Grace Delaney), Mary, Quinn's wife (Kym Pappas) and Tom Kettle, the British farmworker (Dallas McLaughlin). They all created their space and timing accordingly and each of them has monologues where we can learn more about their stories and intention. Dagmar Fields in her monologue as Aunt Maggie, who has dementia and shifts away most of the time, is strong and moving. Same with Kym Pappas as Mary who throughout the beginning of the play comes in and out but, when her turn for the floor comes, and she admits indirectly to knowing about Quinn and Caitlin, it is a true gasp moment. Pappas knows how to move throughout a space using knowledge well and gracefully. I am a fan of Joy Yvonne Jones, she is a true force with amazing presence and energy, however in this performance, I perceived that energy to be low throughout the story. It is at the end that she reminds the audience, what she is capable of. I just wish I could have seen it all throughout.

Ben Mclaren, Bugz Baltzer, and Nick Ritz Daugherty. Photo by Amanda Doherty
The Ferryman is a three-and-a-half-hour play with TWO intermissions. It is not for the weak. And if you were one of those audience members that did not come back after one of the two breaks, it is not for you either. New Village Arts embraced this ambitious project in length, depth, and cast. We should also be grateful to have it locally because you do not see these types of productions over here. Should it be done often? I do not know about that, what I do know is that NVA rose to the challenge and proved that it can be done and done well.

March 5th is their last performance! and it has been selling out, so if you have a chance, go experience this for yourself. There are two shows on Friday and Saturday.

For more information on ticket prices and performance times please CLICK HERE.

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