Jerusalem

  • Theatre
  • West End
Critics' choice
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© Simon Annand
Professor (Alan David) and Johnny Rooster Bryon (Mark Rylance)

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.

Event phone: 020 7907 7071

Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:5
LiveReviews|10
1 person listening
john o sullivan

Class porn for the blue rinses...famous Shakesperian actor limps round stage shouting C***... wow theatre doesnt get better than this ..typical Royal Court fayre ..well acted and badly written

Hugh

absolute rubbish, incoherent drivel with cliched jokes and weird glorification of an anti-bureaucratic drug dealer

Julia

I normally hate theatre, but I absolutely loved this. Mark Rylance performance is Amazing!

Jade

Absolute rubbish don't be fooled by fantastic reviews !!! Never seen anything like it! Left half way through.

Penny

Just the best play ever! Mark Rylance simply brilliant - an even better performance than in Boeing boeing which was amazing. How he does this for over 3 hours 8 times a week is beyond belief!! Hilarious to start with the play gets cleverly dark as it progresses. A standing ovation is obviously the norm here. We are going to see it again after buying the script at the Apollo.

popo

the audience seemed so excited to see the play that they burst into fits of hysterical laughter at every opportunity, and a few times at moments which clearly were not meant to be funny, which was a shame. amazing central performance.

Andrzej

@Tim Did you really see it or are you just havinga good troll? I can understand why some people might not enjoy it, but given the generally rapturous response it's received in the West End and Broadway, the description of an entire audience not enjoying it sounds a bit fishy. In any case the characters certainly aren't heroes, apart from Rooster, in his own ambivalent way.

Tim

I saw this a year ago. It was the worst and most boring play I have ever seen. The characters portray themselves as heroes but are in fact a bunch of pathetic idiots. The acting was loud, even brazen, but not clever. What exactly the play is trying to portray, if anything, I have no idea. From start to finish neither I nor the rest of the audience found much to laugh about or enjoy.