The real-life experience of Northern Irish actress Laura Donnelly inspired the plot for Jez Butterworth’s latest hit play THE FERRYMAN, directed by Sam Mendes, which became the fastest selling production at the Royal Court earlier this year and has now transferred to the Gielgud in London’s West End.
The disappearance and murder of Laura’s uncle Eugene Simmons was the basis for this Troubles-era story. She was only a child, but remembers how he was taken away by the IRA, shot and his body dumped in a bog. Laura, best known to TV audiences for her roles in CASULTY, MERLIN and BEOWULF worked with Jez on his play THE RIVER at the Royal Court alongside Dominic West and Miranda Raison and on Broadway with Hugh Jackman.
Laura has attracted high critical praise for her portrayal of the victim’s widow, Caitlin Carney in THE FERRYMAN and signed my drawing of her in the role at the stage door last month.
The Tarantula Hawk is a wasp that lays an egg in a spider’s abdomen, hatching a larvae that feeds on the arachnid’s innards avoiding the vital organs to ensure they remain a living host until it is ready to emerge. It is reference to Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s electric triller THE WASP, which has transferred to the Trafalgar Studio’s intimate 100-seater number 2 space after a sell-out season at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year.
MyAnna Buring reprises the role of Carla and replacing Sinead Matthews is Laura Donnelly as Heather. Two women who haven’t seen each other since school. The rough Carla is married to a man thirty years her senior and heavily pregnant with her fifth child. Heather is glamorous, successful and happily married. It asks in 90 minutes with two plot twists and a ‘gobsmaking ending’, how far beyond the playground we carry our childhood experiences and how people are willing to go in order to come to terms with them.
“A taunt, brilliantly calibrated two-handed, which takes pleasure in shocking its audience” wrote The Stage’s Natasha Tripney in her four-star review. I met MyAnna and Laura as they emerged from the Trafalgar Studios stage door to an unseasonably mild winter’s evening and both signed my sketch, adding some kind comments.