If you ask Jez Butterworth about The Irish Troubles, you can watch the playwright time travel in his mind back to his childhood. “I knew when I was 11 years old that the hunger strikers were dying one by one in 1981,” he told Playbill in the fall. “It’s such a powerful campaign, people starving themselves to death, and when you're 10 years old it hit really hard and it was on the news every single time it happened, which was, of course, the point and it massively, massively affected me.
“I never intended to write about it and then suddenly I did,” he added. And now that play, The Ferryman, is nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Play.
“It tells me what I already knew about the play whenever I read it, which is that it's a universal story,” star Laura Donnelly says in the video above of the success the play has enjoyed since its transfer to Broadway. “That it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know anything about he background of the politics of this play, it’s a story about human beings.”
Whether you credit the writing, as Donnelly does, or the performances, as Butterworth does, The Ferryman has undeniably captivated audiences as an epic ensemble piece.
“Theatre is a big bear,” says Butterworth. “It’s a hundred to one shot, so when it comes off it really comes off.”