I always find it fascinating to watch how the critical community deals with a play that becomes a big success. The overnight rush to acclaim genius, the enthusiasm with which some greet it, the scepticism that that inspires in others followed by the relief that comes when someone publishes a well-reasoned critique that allows them to say ‘well it isn’t that good, see’.
Jez Butterworth and Sam Mendes are names pretty much guaranteed to make any theatregoing regular pay attention, both are synonymous with high quality productions (Butterworth’s Jerusalem regularly crops up among best play lists while Mendes’ list of director credits is too long to replay here) and they worked together on Spectre, the most recent movie in the James Bond franchise.
Set in rural County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in August 1981, the play takes place in the Carney home. This is a farming family, who grow cereals for export, and the head of the household is Quinn Carney (Considine), a former IRA man.
The play’s the thing though and here, Butterworth has constructed a Northern Irish epic. Set at harvest-time in 1981, deep in County Armagh, the Carney clan are gathering for a humdinger of a do once the work in the field is done.