Writer Jez Butterworth and director Ian Rickson in discussion with the Royal Court’s Diversity Associate, Ola Animashawun.… Read more
The Royal Court Theatre Production of
Jerusalem (West End)
by Jez Butterworth
Sat 8 Oct 2011 - Sat 14 Jan 2012
Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7EZ
Tickets: £52.50, £47.50, £37.50, £32.50, £25. Premium Seats: £75
“One of the best dramas of the 21st century” Guardian 5 stars “This is one of the best dramas of the new century. Rylance raises his game even higher and shows he is one of the greats: An extraordinary moment in British drama.”Sunday Times 5 stars “Believe the hype. Rylance’s astonishing final scene is as close to real magic as you’ll find… Rylance fever has reached epic proportions. It’s hard to see Jerusalem ever dating.”Time Out
All advance tickets have sold out. Day Seats are available for every performance from 10am at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.
The award-winning Royal Court Theatre production directed by Ian Rickson, and starring Tony and Olivier Award-winning actor Mark Rylance
A comic, contemporary vision of rural life in England’s green and pleasant land…
On the morning of the local county fair, Johnny Byron is a wanted man. Local officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son wants his full attention, and his motley crew of friends wants his ample supply of booze.
Starring Mark Rylance in the “performance of the decade” (Sunday Times) and the “superb” (Time Out London) Mackenzie Crook, members of the original London cast star in what has been hailed “an instant modern classic” (Daily Telegraph).
Jerusalem opened at the Royal Court Theatre in July, 2009 with critics praising playwright Jez Butterworth’s beautiful and comic elegy for a disappearing way of life in rural England and actor Mark Rylance, who was lauded as delivering one of the great stage performances of our time. The production played an extended sold out run at the Royal Court, before moving to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in January, 2010, where it received an unprecedented set of five-star reviews from 12 London newspapers.
The 2011 West End cast includes Mark Rylance (Johnny “Rooster” Byron) and Mackenzie Crook (Ginger) as well as Max Baker (Wesley), Alan David (The Professor), Aimeé-Ffion Edwards (Phaedra), Johnny Flynn (Lee), Geraldine Hughes (Dawn), Danny Kirrane (Davey), Charlotte Mills (Tanya), Sarah Moyle (Ms Fawcett) and Harvey Robinson (Mr Parsons).
“A great sprawling brawl of a play. Mark Rylance is astonishing.”
The New York Times
“An instant modern classic.”
“Wildly original, exceptionally funny.”
Mail on Sunday
“One of the greatest performances ever witnessed.”
“You’d be mad to miss it.”
Time Out London
Produced in the West End by Royal Court Theatre Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.
Running time 3hrs 10mins, including 2 intervals
Johnny “Rooster” Byron
5 stars ‘Rylance, an actor of indisputable greatness, gives the most thrilling performance it has ever been my privilege to witness. Jerusalem has lost none of its potency and, unbelievably, Rylance’s Tony-Award winning performance seems even more hilarious, moving and inspired than ever.’
‘The play is at once funny and sad, tender and terrifyingly violent, and director Ian Rickson and the superb supporting company capture all its richness and ambiguity.’
Daily Telegraph 5 stars Rylance’s mercurial magnetism is even stronger the second time round. The best new play of the decade.’
The Times 5 stars ‘It is a rare thing not to want something to end but so it was last night watching Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem; to say I was bedazzled just about sums it up…I think it’s time to sell granny to get a ticket. It is a towering performance…one feels that the very foundations of the Apollo Theatre might break’
Whatsonstage 5 stars ‘Jez Butterworth’s wildly original hymn to eccentricity. Mark Rylance gives the performance of a lifetime. If you see nothing else this year, see this richly rewarding and resonant play.’
Mail on Sunday
‘Go and see him, if you can beg or flatter a ticket. Go on unsavoury dates to sit through Jerusalem. It is one of the great performances of your lifetime’
Sunday Times Culture 5 stars Time Out, By Andrzej Lukowski, 25th October 2011
There must be minor deities who have received less adulation than Mark Rylance has, for his Olivier and Tony-winning turn as ‘Rooster’ Johnny Byron in Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’. Now that Ian Rickson’s show has returned to the West End for a victory lap, Rylance fever has reached epic proportions, with this run set to rake in £14 million.
So what is there left to say about ‘Jerusalem’? Maybe that behind the reverential descriptions of its lead actor – and according focus on the play’s loftier themes – it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Butterworth has written a wickedly funny comedy about a bunch of South-Western ne’er do wells getting off their nuts on an illegal caravan site in Wiltshire.
Litres of vodka and buckets of speed are consumed, live tortoises and hens pootle around Ultz’s splendid set and Rooster’s crew of oddball followers fondly reminisce about the days when the village fête had a kick-a-man-in-the-bollocks contest. Rooster’s rambling stories about encounters with giants take on an almost spiritual plausibility under Rylance’s weird charisma, but they’re also side-splittingly hilarious.
Re-opening in a week where the battle for Dale Farm raged, it’s hard to see ‘Jerusalem’ ever dating, at least not while there is some wildness left in England and people who wish to crush that wildness.
What is there left to say about Mark Rylance’s performance? Basically, believe the hype. In Rylance’s hands Rooster is a wayward force of nature: old, broken, capricious and ridiculous, but beneath it all possessed of a gravity and power that runs centuries deep.
His astonishing final scene, bellowing mystic defiance at the implacable advance of modernity, is as close to real magic as you’ll find in our cold, tame city. 5 stars Sunday Times, By Helen Hawkins, 23rd October 2011
Jez Butterworth’s bruiser of a play about rural England has returned for another limited run. This is one of the best dramas of the new century, finding an echo in the bulldozers at Dale farm. It’s also, be warned, one of the most robustly sweary.
Butterworth’s Wiltshire lumpkins are street-smart and druggy; even the publican does “wiz”. They hang out with Johnny “Rooster” Byron, A modern-day Pan who hosts their revels at his caravan. Is he a “green man”, acquainted with giants? Or just a pisshead “gyppo” whose brain has boiled over from too many Vodka-Red Bulls? A new estate is creeping towards his woods, and the council wants him out. Which Britain will win? As Rooster, Mark Rylance has the time of his life. A straight-legged limp and a flip of the hip that sends his chest out like a fighting cock’s are all he needs to transform himself physically into this strange creation. He’s like a manic soloist with an excellent backing band, led by Mackenzie Crook’s sad Ginger, the wannabe DJ.
In the extraordinary finale, where Rooster’s fight against the modern world comes to a climax, Rylance raises his game even higher and shows he is one of the greats: an extraordinary moment in British drama. 5 stars The Times, By Libby Purves, 18th October 2011
He’s back: following a Broadway triumph and a Tony award — our elfin Mark Rylance with his eerie shape-shifting ability, once more inhabiting for us the sunburnt, staggering, tattooed form of Johnny “Rooster” Byron — the rural rebel in the best, strangest new play of the decade.
“Friends, outcasts, leeches, rioting undesirables — a blessing on you all!” he cries, and we suspend disbelief and decorous modern moralities.
Those of us who saw it remember Jerusalem first time around: how the woodland set with battered caravan held us breathless for three hours, with the lyrical violence of Jez Butterworth’s language and Rylance’s mercurial magnetism.The play delves with casual entitlement into a long English tradition of wild woodland freedom, fairies and giants, ogres and outlaws and werewolves, yet it belongs in today’s world of prissy regulations and local authority l Section 62 enforcement eviction orders.
It has been slyly updated with references to Kate and Pippa Middleton, and the original script was prophetic enough: the concrete creep into the countryside via contracts and kickbacks, the riots, Dale Farm evictions, even the decline of regional TV news were always foreseen.
Yet I found new things in it, proofs that the play will outlast even its remarkable star (although it is still hard to imagine anyone but Rylance handling it, spearing mad tales out of the ether with his wide, shining eyes and doing a headstand in the rainwater tank by way of toilette. No understudy is yet listed).
I had forgotten how clever the play’s structure is, drawing us in with louche comedy almost like Only Fools and Horses or Shameless, but darkening sharply in Act 2 to a final apocalypse still laced with magnificent, defiant comedy.
I had remembered the wealth of legend, folk and literary references and the sense of something enormous always lying beyond the mundane, but I had forgotten the human pathos. Rooster’s caravan is not only a place where kids go to drink, rave and buy drugs, but everyman’s escape from life’s impossibility: an abused girl, a henpecked publican and a grieving, demented academic all resort to the only thing that comforts despair — myth, mystery, storytelling.
There is immense strength in the supporting cast: Mackenzie Crook as Ginger; Alan David infinitely touching as the Professor; Danny Kirrane as Davey from the abattoir; Max Baker as the publican in his morris-dancing outfit (“it was the Brewery”).
You cannot but succumb: we know really that the council officials are within their legal rights, that teenage bingeing and drugs are inadvisable, Rooster’s own paternity neglectful and irresponsible and his confreres dullards and losers.
Yet they are within us all: unconquered revellers, rule-breakers, sly ancient faces amid the leaves calling up the lost wild gods of England. 5 stars The Daily Telegraph, by Charles Spencer, 18th October 2011
It was with a feeling of apprehension that I walked up Shaftesbury Avenue to see Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem with its extraordinary performance from Mark Rylance as the wild gypsy and former motorcycle stunt-rider Johnny “Rooster” Byron”.
This was my third visit to the play, which seemed like an instant modern classic when I first saw it at the Royal Court in 2009. And Rylance’s performance struck me as perhaps the greatest, and certainly the most thrilling I had seen in more than 30 years of professional theatre-going.
Would the magic survive a third visit, or would familiarity breed if not contempt, a suspicion that there might actually be less here than met the enraptured eye and ear?
Reader, don’t worry. Jerusalem, recently returned from a 20 week run in New York, has lost none of its potency and, unbelievably, Rylance’s Tony-Award winning performance seems even more hilarious, moving and inspired than ever.
Watching him is like watching a great jazz musician hitting an amazing streak of improvisation. The basics remain the same, but there are new grace notes, sudden departures into new territory. The comic energy of his performance as a Falstaffian Pied-Piper who attracts Wiltshire village kids to his mobile home in the woods for wild drug and alcohol fuelled parties is now accompanied by a deeper vein of melancholy and apprehension.
The Rooster still makes a blearily hung-over first entrance only to perform a handstand on a water trough and lower his head in it to wake himself up. And his breakfast still consists of a carton of milk, a raw egg, several generous shots of vodka and a wrap of speed mixed up in a pint glass and dispatched in one long swallow.
But I was more aware this time round that character is beginning to feel his age, that his amazing stories of giants and being kidnapped by Nigerian traffic wardens are a defence against a rising awareness that his best days night be behind him and his time is running out.
His awkward dealings with his young son are deeply touching, his constant displays of preening vanity a joy. Rylance is surely the only actor in the world who can somehow contrive to limp and strut at the same time, his dark eyes glittering with a mixture of mischief and something darker and more disturbing.
Butterworths’s Jerusalem is a hymn to both the old England of folk tales and rural mystery, and a lament for the housing estates and petty officialdom that are screwing it up. It is a defiant celebration of freedom, yet at the same time one feels an undoubted sympathy for any proud householder who finds himself living near a man like Rooster Byron.
The play is at once funny and sad, tender and terrifyingly violent, and director Ian Rickson and the superb supporting company capture all its richness and ambiguity. But what lends the play its amphetamine rush of excitement is watching Rylance, an actor of indisputable greatness, giving the most thrilling performance it has ever been my privilege to witness.
To read previous Jerusalem reviews click here