Sunday, June 5, 2011


I have a lot to say in this post and I’m sure it still won’t cover or convey all the things I am thinking or feeling in regards to the play, Jerusalem. I know that it’s been two weeks since I saw the show and in some ways I’m still processing what happened on that stage, in that theatre that night. If you don’t feel like you want to take the time to read my ramblings, just read this: I’ve never been so moved by a straight play in my life. I’ve never had that many emotions. I’ve never left a theatre so unsure of my feelings about a show. And you MUST see it if you have the opportunity.

My friend and I rushed this show to get cheaper tickets. It was a show that we knew a little about, but the biggest kicker for me was the fact that John Gallagher, Jr was in this show. Having seen him in American Idiot four times, I was anxious to see him in something different. I’d also heard wonderful things about Mark Rylance in La Bete.

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.

I should point out a few other actors in this show. I don’t want to forget what an amazing cast this was. Aimeé-Ffion Edwards played teen runaway Phaedra. She sang most of her lines in the show and had a hauntingly beautiful presence onstage.

Mackenzie Crook played Rooster’s side-kick. Or as much of a side-kick as Rooster would allow. Crook gave the character of Ginger humor and loyalty. He was, in fact, Rooster’s most loyal follower. A true friend? I’d believe so. Crook received a Tony nomination for this role and I feel it was more than deserved.

And I can’t finish this post without mentioning former Idiot, John Gallagher, Jr. as Lee, a young man who has decided to leave England for Australia in hopes of something new. He is most of the reason that I went to the show. I’ll admit that. But the play itself, and Mark Rylance’s superb performance were the reason I fell in love with the show. I recommend it to anyone that wants a solid piece of theatre that will make you think and feel things in ways that theatre rarely does.

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.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for including me in your "blogs of note" list... i am honored!!