New Village Arts Reopens with an Epic ‘Ferryman’
New Village Arts has undergone a major transformation during the pandemic. It has significantly renovated and remodeled its building in Carlsbad Village, and its mainstage, now named for Conrad Prebys, in a facility that is named for philanthropist and playwright Dea Hurston. The mainstage has been significantly improved, as it is deeper and seems to have better backstage space.
A play such as Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman would not have been possible to stage before the work on the building had been completed. So, in what I think is a good way, this massive production provides an opportunity to brag about the status of New Village Arts going forward.
The brag is not misplaced. The Ferryman is solidly staged, and its cast performs it marvelously.
Epic in scale, The Ferryman focuses on the Carney family which has experienced the “disappearance” of one of its members. It opens with the news that the body has been found, but most of the family doesn’t know that. Only older brother Quinn (Thomas Edward Daugherty) and his wife, Caitlin (Joy Yvonne Jones) have heard the news. Fortunately, it is harvest time, so the family members are distracted from The Troubles by bringing in the crops and caring for the most elderly members, Aunt Maggie Faraway (Dagmar Fields), whose condition is reflected in her name, and Uncle Patrick Carney (Antonio TJ Johnson), who is something of a seer.
There are many other members of the family, including young men who are eager to assume responsibilities and young girls and women, some who care for others, and some who need to be cared for. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the performances across the entire cast, including Irish accents coached by a team consisting of Jude McSpadden, Grace Delaney, and Vanessa Dinning. Ms. Delaney and Amanda Doherty are credited with serving as cultural consultants, and Heather LaForge doubled as dramaturg and Assistant Director. The level of performance is clearly reflected in this preparation.
To top it off, there is a live goose brought on stage (and later used as a symbol) as well as a live rabbit and a live baby, who was incredibly cooperative at the performance I saw.
Speaking of symbols, Uncle Patrick muses about the mythical Ferryman’s role in taking some of the dead across the River Styx. There are other religious references as well, in keeping with the religious nature of the rebellion.
Ms. Kurner’s role in shaping both the acting and the production is both important and evident. The play is divided into three acts, and there are two intermissions, resulting in a three-and-a half-hour run time. Time passes swiftly when the performers keep the audience at such a high level of engagement.
In alphabetical order, the cast members are Bugz Baltzer, Jake Crevoiserat, Nick Dautherty, Thomas Edward Daugherty, Grace Delaney, Giovanny Diaz de Leon, Dagmar Fields, Layth Haddad, Jacob James, Emily Jerez, Antonio TJ Johnson, Joy Yvonne Jones, Levani Korganashvili, Max Macke, Ben McLaren, Dallas McLaughlin, Lena Palke, Kym Pappas, Loretta Pfaff-Carano, Priya Richard, Kyle Ryan, Juliana Scheding, Daren Scott, Liam Michael Phillips. Snow Elizabeth White, and Lucy Zavatterro. Creative Credits include Doug Cumming, Scenic Design, JoJo Siu, Costume Design, Harper Justus, Sound Design, Annelise Salazar, Lighting Design, and Farah Dinga, Fight Choreographer.
Performs Thursdays through Sundays through March 5, with Wednesday matinees beginning February 15. Start times vary. Check the theatre’s website for exact information. Parking is available in the lot serving the Amtrak/Coaster station and metered parking is available on local streets.
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