Tony and Olivier Award-winning star Mark Rylance (La Bête, Boeing-Boeing) recreates his wildly acclaimed, multi award-winning performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron on Broadway in the Royal Court Theatre production of Jez Butterworth’s universally heralded new play, Jerusalem. In the woods of South West England, Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, former daredevil motorcyclist and modern-day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son wants to be taken to the country fair, a stepfather wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of friends wants his ample supply of drugs and alcohol. Directed by Ian Rickson (from the acclaimed Broadway production of The Seagull), Jerusalem is the winner of the 2009 Evening Standard and London Critics’ Circle Awards and the 2010 Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Play.
Jerusalem apparently is based on the hymn Jerusalem, which, according to the director, is held very dear by the English people. They said its words have helped form an idyllic sense of aspired Englishness. They have seeped into our actual identity with the help of its gorgeous rousing melody, which is sung on the terraces of sports stadiums and churches and whatever else people seem to connect with a greater sense of national community. I think that this play — I’m not sure what it’s about, and I watched it for three hours and I paid a lot of attention to it — I think it’s about the fall of the British empire — I think. It stars the great Mark Rylance, who was terrific in Le Bete and in Boing Boing, and it really shows his range. He is on stage for essentially the entire three hours ranting and raving, and the entire play takes place in kind of an idyllic wood with a trailer’ the play starts with kind of a raunchy party and then we see that some English bureaucrats are trying to evict Rooster, and so on and on. The point being that this is an intense, I believe metaphorical, very well acted, very noisy play, I think about the fall of the British empire. Again, I’m not sure that anybody really knows what it’s about, but we know that Mark Rylance is a fabulous actor. I’ll give it — On the basis of Mark, I would give it probably at least 4.5. On the basis of trying to figure out what’s going on, kind of obscure, so I’d give it 3.5 stars