×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jerusalem

Actor Mark Rylance truly shines Jez Butterworth's 'Jerusalem,' a comedy about a dope dealer holding out against the forces of gentrification overtaking the English countryside.

With:
Phaedra - Aimee-Ffion Edwards
Johnny "Rooster" Byron - Mark Rylance
Ginger - Mackenzie Crook
The Professor - Alan David
Lee - John Gallagher, Jr.
Davey - Danny Kirrane
Wesley - Max Baker
Dawn - Geraldine Hughes

Broadway auds already know, thanks to “La Bete” and “Boeing-Boeing,” that Mark Rylance is an amazing actor. But by the conclusion of “Jerusalem,” Brit thesp has us convinced that he’s some ancient god of misrule, an ancestral Pan playing his pipes for an insipid age that has forgotten all the joys of paganism. In Jez Butterworth’s rustic comedy about a good-time dope dealer holding out against the forces of gentrification overtaking the English countryside, Rylance looks likely to attract the same heaps of praise he scored in the original London production of the play.

Rylance’s deliciously subversive performance triggers both barrels of Butterworth’s funny if disconcerting play — the accessible story about the wild man who lives in the woods and attracts all the “outcasts,” “undesirables,” and rebellious teens in the village to his drunken parties, as well as the mythic subtext about old nature gods who don’t take kindly to being uprooted from their sacred grounds.

Rylance is a strongly physical actor (he credits his chiropractor in the program bio), and his Johnny “Rooster” Byron looks like a once-noble animal gone to seed after too many years in the circus. Strutting and staggering around in the garish shirts and gypsy jewelry designed by Ultz (also responsible for the enchanted Arcadian woods where Rooster has pitched his trailer camp), Rylance gives beaucoup charisma to the earthy party animal and braggart raconteur whose ratty kingdom is about to be uprooted for a fancy housing development.

Although it’s hard to look anywhere else when Rylance is on stage, which is all the time, Mackenzie Crook manages to turn heads with his droll perf as Ginger, the faithful hanger-on who missed last night’s bacchanal and may be too strung-out for today’s festivities, the St. George’s Day fete that is an annual rite of spring.

Under Ian Rickson’s smooth helming, other colorful visitors surface from the heavy human traffic at Rooster’s camp, many of them from the original Royal Court production. Danny Kirrane has a sobering turn as Davey, whose job at a slaughterhouse goes a long way to explain why he parties so hard on weekends. Non-Brit John Gallagher, Jr. (“American Idiot”) lends his sensitivity to Lee, a born-and-bred country boy about to strike out for the wilds of Australia. And Geraldine Hughes, welcome in anything, has her moment as Rooster’s wrung-out ex-wife, Dawn.

The rumbling echoes of ancient times that resonate throughout the play are sounded by two Shakespearean fool characters: Wesley (Max Baker), the asinine pub owner whose clumsy efforts to play a Morris Dancer is Butterworth’s sly travesty of those sinister, possibly savage figures of folk legend, and the Professor (Alan David), whose drunken allusions “to the blossom and the May-Come, St. George, and all the Lost Gods of England!” actually contain rich information about the pagan gods and primitive fertility rites that haunt this play.

But it’s Rooster himself who holds the key to these lost times. This old reprobate may be barred from every pub in the village, but there’s ancient authority in his claim of having lived in these woods “since before all you bent busybody bastards were born.” And you really don’t want to look too deeply into his black, satanic eyes, because “written there is old words that will shake you — shake you down.”

Jerusalem

Music Box Theater ; 998 seats; $126.50 top

Production: A presentation by Sonia Friedman Prods., Stuart Thompson, Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Royal Court Theater Productions, Beverly Bartner/Alice Tulchin, Dede Harris/Rupert Gavin, Broadway Across America, Jon B. Platt, 1001 Nights/Stephanie P. McClelland, Carole L. Haber/Richard Willis, and Jacki Barlia Florin/Adam Blanshay, of the Royal Court Theater production of a play in three acts by Jez Butterworth. Directed by Ian Rickson.

Creative: Set and costumes, Ultz; lighting, Mimi Jordan Sherin; sound, Ian Dickinson for Autograph; original music, Stephen Warbeck; production stage manager, Jill Cordle. Reviewed April 20, 2011. Opened April 21. Running time: 3 HOURS.

Cast: Phaedra - Aimee-Ffion Edwards
Johnny "Rooster" Byron - Mark Rylance
Ginger - Mackenzie Crook
The Professor - Alan David
Lee - John Gallagher, Jr.
Davey - Danny Kirrane
Wesley - Max Baker
Dawn - Geraldine Hughes
With: Sarah Moyle, Harvey Robinson, Molly Ranson, Charlotte Mills, Aiden Eyrick, Mark Page, Barry Sloane, Jay Sullivan, Richard Short.

More Legit

  • Richard E Grant Everybody's Talking About

    Richard E. Grant to Play Former Drag Queen in 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie'

    Oscar-nominated actor Richard E. Grant will portray a former drag queen and mentor in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” the movie adaptation of the British stage musical. “Catastrophe” co-creator and star Sharon Horgan and “Happy Valley” star Sarah Lancashire have also joined the film. Max Harwood will play the titular role of Jamie, a role inspired [...]

  • The Secret Life of Bees review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Secret Life of Bees'

    There’s a sweet sense of sisterhood that’s simply divine in “The Secret Life of Bees,” the heartwarming new musical at the Atlantic Theater Company based on Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling 2002 coming-of-age novel, set in South Carolina in 1964 amid Civil Rights struggles. (A 2008 film adaptation starred Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah.) The feeling [...]

  • 10 Comics to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Comics to Watch for 2019

    Variety has chosen its 10 Comics to Watch for 2019. The honorees will be profiled in the July 18 issue of Variety and at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at a cocktail party on Thursday, July 25, followed by a panel and showcase on Friday, July 26. The events are sponsored by Cohen & Gardner LLP. The [...]

  • Vanessa Hudgens So You Think You

    Vanessa Hudgens, Hailey Kilgore to Star in Reading of 'The Notebook' Musical

    Vanessa Hudgens and Tony-nominee Hailey Kilgore are joining an upcoming reading of Ingrid Michaelson’s stage adaptation of “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. Tony nominee Michael Greif is set to direct the reading, which will open June 23 at Vassar College’s Martel Theater as part of their Powerhouse Theater season. Kilgore will star as the younger [...]

  • Moulin Rouge director Alex Timbers

    'Beetlejuice,' 'Moulin Rouge!' Director Alex Timbers on Creating Worlds on Broadway

    In the past year, Alex Timbers has directed the Tony-nominated “Beetlejuice” and the stage adaptation of “Moulin Rouge!” (which begins previews June 28 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre). Here, he reflects on his most recent projects and the challenges of bringing two iconic movie musicals to Broadway within a year.  Both your musicals live in [...]

  • Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic

    Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Ramos, known for his roles in “Hamilton” and “A Star Is Born,” has signed with Republic Records, the company announced today. Ramos will release his forthcoming debut album later this year, with new music expected this summer. Footage from the signing aired on his YouTube series today. “Anthony is a true [...]

  • Much Ado About Nothing review

    Shakespeare in the Park Review: Danielle Brooks in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

    The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park productions can be provocative, irritating, enlightening or maddening, but they are always fun. In his new staging of “Much Ado About Nothing” with a cast led by Danielle Brooks, director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun,” “American Son”) delivers the fun in a slaphappy, dance-crazy version [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content