Play Review: Jerusalem

18 Nov

Back in August, when my blog had just started, I wrote a post about how I had just bought tickets to this play. How I excited I was, and how much I was looking forward to it. There’s been a lot of hype around this play. With all the awards, rave reviews, including comments hailing Mark Rylance as the ‘Laurence Olivier of our time’ and this play being ‘an instant modern classic’, it’s safe to say that this is supposed to be a good play. Let me say, that the hype is most certainly justified.


The play is set in Wiltshire England and takes place on St. George’s Day. Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron (Mark Rylance) is a local drug dealer and alcohol supplier to teenagers in the area. He’s wanted by the council for his illegal encampment of his home van. Many more events will transpire on this festive day for the village. It’s a big day for Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

Rylance deserves every ounce of praise that he gets. The fact that Michael Billington and Tracie Bennett have said that it’s the best performance that they’ve ever seen, speaks volumes. It’s stunning. It’s a long play but Rylance will certainly captivate and enthral you into this production. There’s a soliloquy at the end of the final act that will blow you away. Rylance is an artist who embodies and personifies his character to an extent that makes you lose yourself in the show. I cannot sing his praises enough, watching him perform is something else.

The support cast is very good too including an excellent performance by Mackenzie Crook (The Office) who plays a teenager who visits Johnny for drugs and alcohol and to have a ‘good time’. Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) also plays her role of a foolish teenager well along with Charlotte Mills and others.

Jez Butterworth has created something magnificent. The play in itself is brilliant, it is what a play should be. It most certainly is a classic and in twenty years time, will probably be studied by English and Drama classes all over the world. It’s social commentary is superb but it has a very sharp, dark humour that is incorporated throughout. It’s an incredibly rich, eloquent and expressive text that will keep entertained. Magnificently written and extraordinarily smart.

Ian Rankin has shown in recent years that he knows how to work with a cast. Most recently he’s done The Children’s Hour (Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Moss) and Betrayal (Kristin Scott Thomas). It’s a very hard play to direct as you have eight people on stage at a time but Rankin moves the, around so fluidly and his pacing is perfect. Ultz’s stage design will impress including the van, live chickens, real trees and more.

This is a play that people will be talking about for a really long time, it’s magnificent. Gt a ticket. Do whatever you have to do to see this play. I cannot recommend it enough and I could rave for hours and hours about how incredible this play is. Rylance gives the performance of a generation in Jez Butterworth’s remarkable creation.

Rating: 5/5

2 Responses to “Play Review: Jerusalem”

  1. colincarman November 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Wonderful; which theater is this at? Looks like a limited run.

    • aculturedlad November 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      It’s at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue. It ends on the 14th January and tickets from the primary seller are all sold out but resellers have some and at places like you’ll get them for a fair price. Please go and see this play! šŸ™‚

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