Thu 28th – Sat 30th November 2013


Daniel Croock

at 02:19 on 29th Nov 2013



Amid a backdrop of hedonistic degeneracy, the cast of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem gave an admirably professional and polished performance, maintaining a superb intensity over the course of this three-hour marathon. We are thrown into a surreal, almost Beckettian world in which giants frequent the A14, and a spliff accompanies the Antiques roadshow. Yet the production succeeds in portraying the ‘Rooster’ Byron’s continued, and ultimately futile search for a sense of identity, that serves to make the play both hilariously funny and deeply moving.

The production as a whole is extremely professional. The set is lavish in its attention to detail, right down to the discarded bottles of vodka, while the dialogue between characters is slick, allowing the play to flow with a speed that belies its extensive length. The production was littered with impressive performances, not least Michael Forde as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, a dynamo of energy, mercurial in his depiction of a drug-dealer, an old biker, a dispenser of alcohol to the under-age, yet also the defender of a hedonistic innocence, at threat from the vindictive South Wiltshire council. Alongside, Joe Skelton came across as suitably pathetic in his role as the delusional Ginger, a picture of futility, while Callum Kenny brought laughs as the Morris dancing Wesley.

Although certainly crude in its language, the cast succeeds in portraying the unsettling ambiguity, the longing for the green and pleasant lands of William Blake’s eponymous poem, against the backdrop of substance abuse and compulsive lying. There is a deeply ambiguous duality in the juxtaposition of an innocent longing for the freedom of youth, alongside Rooster’s association with teenage children. It is this success at portraying the unexpectedly moving with the ostensibly hilarious which makes the production such a success, the intelligent use of awkward silences and music serves to enhance, and provides both a source of humour and a depth of emotion that makes you forget about the three hour long running time. This production comes across as highly professional, backed by a talented cast and is therefore, not to be missed.


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