Sunday, June 5, 2011
Let me first mention the set. The curtain came up and I was immediately in a forest. There were actual TREES on this stage. And real grass. And even a cage with actual live chickens. Even though this play is set in the English country-side, I swear I’ve been to very similar areas on my Tennessee mountain, complete with broken down trailers, couches, and old car seats sitting in front of a fire pit.
There are three acts to this play. The first act, in many ways is solid comedy. At first intermission, I wasn’t really sure where the show was going. It was funny, and you were getting an idea of what was going on, but it hadn’t really come together yet. The second act begins to sew more and more pieces together. It was still comedic. But you were beginning more and more things happening that were leaning hard to the serious side. By the third act I was entranced. As was the entire theatre. It was silent. I was still. My eyes never left the stage and I was slightly afraid to blink in case I would miss something.
Mark Rylance plays Johnny “Rooster” Byron, a story-telling, middle aged drug dealer that has a following of teenagers and misfits. Each of his “followers” have their own issues going on and most of them have a safer, more stable existence when they are partying at Rooster’s than they would if they were home. But they all seem to continue to gravitate toward Rooster and his amazingly charismatic personality. The premise of the show, at a VERY basic level is that Johnny “Rooster” Byron lives in a trailer in the English countryside on land that does not belong to him. The local town is trying to forcibly remove him from the area.
Rylance commands the stage as Rooster. It makes me believe that he is every bit as charismatic off-stage as he is in the role of Rooster. His ability to bewitch the audience is amazing. But I’ll be honest, when he came out the stage door, he was so quite, polite and unassuming that if I’d seen him anywhere else, I’d have assumed that he was anyone else in the city, working a “regular” job and going nowhere near Broadway.
This limited engagement has extended through August 21st. Go see it. Part of my New Year’s resolution was to see more plays as well as to see more original works. I was blessed to get both of those done with this wonderful British transfer.