Sam Mendes is to return to the theatre to direct a new play by his 'Spectre' writer Jez Butterworth.

The 51-year-old director worked with Butterworth on his second James Bond film - which he co-wrote with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan - and now he is going to return to his stage roots to helm 'The Ferryman', penned by the 47-year-old playwright.

'The Ferryman' is set in rural County Londonderry in Northern Ireland and the play takes place in 1981 at the height of the prison hunger strikes which claimed 10 lives during the ethno-nationalist conflict which took place in the country and was known as 'The Troubles'.

Speaking about the project, 'Jerusalem' creator Butterworth, 47, told the London Evening Standard newspaper: ''It is a play about a family where the past comes back into the present in a way that shows it was never really buried. It is set during the end of the hunger strike, but it is away from that urban setting of the hunger strike and set on a farm where the main preoccupation is bringing the harvest in. It is looking at the notion of whether you care for the land with a capital L or a small l, and whether you take up the sword or the plough.''

The news of Mendes' move back to the theatre comes after he admitted earlier this year that he would no longer be working on the Bond franchise following his two films 'Skyfall' and 'Spectre' - which starred Daniel Craig as 007 - as he wants a fresh challenge.

He said previously: ''[James Bond] was an incredible adventure, I loved every second of it. But I think it's time for somebody else. I'm a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.

''I can guarantee whatever happens with it, it will not be what you expect. That's what she [producer Barbara Broccoli] has been brilliant at, and that's how it'll survive.''

'The Ferryman' will run at the Royal Court Theatre in London between April and May 2017, and comes as part of a number of new plays for the theatre's 2017 season which creative director Vicky Featherstone has dubbed as an ''exciting mixture''.

She said: ''I am humbled and thrilled to be announcing such a varied and exciting mixture of work from playwrights and theatre-makers at the top of their game, pushing the limits of their potential to challenge, surprise and provoke us.

''This is the Royal Court at its best - a place for attracting some of the great playwrights and theatre-makers of our times to experiment and take risks to give us, the audience, the most extraordinary experiences possible.''