Patsy Ferran: The Road to Camp Siegfried

Ahead of opening night of Camp Siegfried at the Old Vic, we take a look at star Patsy Ferran’s theatre career. In what is only the beginning of her career, Ferran is already won a Critics’ Circle Award twice, picking up Most Promising Newcomer in 2014 and a Best Actress Award in 2019, and she’s also been an Evening Standard Theatre Award nominee. But the jewel in her crown was her Olivier Award win for Best Actress in 2019.

We take a look back at the performances that have led her to Camp Siegfried.

Patsy Ferran in Camp Siegfried at the Old Vic

Blithe Spirit – Gielgud Theatre, London, 2014

Quite the stage debut for a young actress. Straight out of RADA, Ferran is cast alongside the one-and-only Angela Lansbury in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, playing the role of Edith. And she impressed; “Patsy Ferran makes a scene-stealing debut as the alarming maid who gallops everywhere. She adds something singularly disconcerting. With her head on one side, and a swivelling eye, she sticks her face too close to everyone for comfort. As if she were hoovering up ectoplasm.” So said the Guardian.

Alongside her performance in Treasure Island, it won her Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics’ Circle Awards, where Michael Coveney described her as having ‘witty elbows’ in Blithe Spirit, something he claimed had not been seen since Maggie Smith. High praise?

The Angry Brigade – Paines Plough, UK tour, 2014

While a little more under the radar that her debut in Blithe Spirit, or her performance in Treasure Island that followed, Ferran equipped herself well in James Graham’s The Angry Brigade by Paines Plough, where she was described as “extraordinarily subtle – melancholy and obsessive.”

Treasure Island – Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, London, 2014

Then, onto the Olivier stage in a gender-bending Treasure Island, playing the role of Jim to Arthur Darvill’s Long John Silver. The audience that saw Ferran’s turn as Jim was dramatically increased from the crowds who came to the National in 2014 through the inclusion of the production in the National Theatre at Home series of broadcasts on YouTube during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic. Ferran’s performance was a little slice of normal life on a Thursday night when nothing was normal.

But how was the performance received? Well, she won the Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics’ Circle Awards, didn’t she?

Patsy Ferran and Arthur Darvill in Treasure Island at the National Theatre

Summer and Smoke – Almeida Theatre, London, 2018

Ferran followed Treasure Island with two Shakespearean performances in the The Merchant of Venice at the RSC and As You Like It at the National and two more modern productions in Speech and Debate at Trafalgar Studios and My Mum’s a Twat at the Royal Court, winning praise along the way, but it was her performance in Summer and Smoke that cemented her status.

Her performance won her an Olivier Award for Best Actress and a Critics Choice Award. And it’s no surprise that she did. She was described by the Telegraph as ‘unbearably good’, by The Independent as “a genuine marvel, as hilarious as she is heartbreaking” and by the great Michael Billington of the Guardian as “one of the most exciting young actors on the British stage.” The Almeida production received a West End transfer, and deservedly so.

Patsy Ferran’s Olivier Award winning performance in Summer and Smoke at the Almeida Theatre

Three Sisters – Almeida Theatre, London, 2019

After their success of Summer and Smoke it seemed natural for Ferran to again team up with direct Rebecca Frecknall, this time on a new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Alas, lightening did not quite strike twice. Though the production was not as well received, Ferran continued to receive praise, being described as being in “a league of her own” by The Telegraph. Her continued theatre success seemed guaranteed. Broadway called…

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Booth Theatre, Broadway, New York, 2020

Ferran was cast along Laurie Metcalf, Rupert Everett and Russell Tovey in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. However, the big lights of Broadway did not last long. The production was just nine performances in when Broadway was shut on 12 March 2020 to counter the spread of Covid in New York. A sad end to a promising revival.

A Christmas Carol – The Bridge Theatre, London, 2020

Lockdown saw the broadcast of Ferran’s 2014 performance in Treasure Island and a new online performance in 15 Heroines by Jermyn Street Theatre, before we emerged from isolation towards a new way of theatre with socially distanced seats, masks in the auditorium and temperature checks at the doors.

And no one did safe theatre better than the Bridge Theatre who announced a three-handed version of A Christmas Carol starring Ferran alongside Simon Russell Beale and Eben Figueiredo, who would play every character between them. The Standard were paticularly pleased with Ferran; “one of our finest younger actors, brings delicate shades of subtlety to each part she plays here.” Sadly, it lasted only two weeks before another lockdown brought the show to a halt.

Patsy Ferran with Simon Russell Beale and Eben Figueiredo in A Christmas Carol at the Bridge Theatre

Camp Siegfried – The Old Vic, London, 2021

After poor luck with cancellations in A Christmas Carol and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, what can we expect from Camp Siegfried? One of our finest young actresses starring with one of our finest young actors, Luke Thallon. It has a script by the much-admired Bess Wohl and direction by none other than Katy Rudd (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Lungs, The Master Builder).

All the sign are that this is going to be one not to miss.

Patsy Ferran with Luke Thallon in Camp Siegfried at the Old Vic

Camp Siegfried is at the Old Vic until 30 October with tickets available across the run.