Jerusalem

Tue 22nd – Sat 26th October 2013

reviews

Lauren Hutchinson

at 20:01 on 24th Oct 2013

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There was undoubtedly a considerable amount of pressure built up around this week's ADC mainshow. Since its opening at The Royal Court in 2009, Jez Butterworth's 'Jerusalem' has been widely renowned as one of the boldest and most celebrated plays of our time. It tells the story of ex-daredevil and fantastical bull-shitter, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, living in (and soon to be evicted from) his dilapidated caravan in the Wiltshire countryside. The local waster, who keeps company with an ever changing group of young 'rats', hosts wild, drugged up parties in the woods and has finally succeeded in getting himself barred from every pub in the village. The play centres around the activity through Rooster's camp on the day of the infamous county fair.

Highly anticipated by a sold out opening night and backed by a monstrous production team, the resulting beast was never going to be small or tame, which is fortunate, as neither is Butterworth's writing, or indeed, any of the characters within in. Therefore I think it only right to congratulate both the set designer in whose mind the stage was conceived, and Charlie Houseago's team of technicians, without whom it could not have been transferred to the stage. As a member of the cast of the late show following Jerusalem, Songs for a New World, the idea of having trees erected on the stage was daunting and somewhat questionable, but upon seeing them realised under a canopy of dappled leaves, I have to admit I was impressed. I have since warmed to them so much, I would campaign to have them as a permanent feature.

The action on stage was immersive and dynamic and full of enough make-shift illegal substances to wire your proverbial self to high heaven.The dialogue was delivered with sharp, witty character inflections and accents were nicely maintained by all members of the cast. Guy Clark was consistently hilarious as wannabe DJ Ginger, demonstrating an astonishing aptitude for comic timing and for the second time in two weeks, I found myself completely convinced and thoroughly entertained by his performance. Well cast teenage girls Tanya and Pea (played by Martha Bennett and Jenny King respectively), provided bouts of relief from the thundering masculine energy on stage with wide enthralled eyes and delicate titters. James Bloor's highly convincing drug induced gurns and ticks were fantastic behavioural nuances, complimented by his strikingly eccentric facial expressions. Despite being seated half a theatre away from him, I felt sure if I were to get close enough, his pupils would be the size of cadbury's buttons. George Longworth brought a tender naivety to Lee's haphazard plans of glorious adventure and some genuine heart to his farewells.

The older characters were played with as much competency as the younger, with Emily Dance shining specifically as Rooster's ex and the mother of his six year old son. Justin Wells crafted a a great line between making the bumbling landlord, Wesley, charming in his hilarious dissatisfaction and tragic at his moments of breakdown. As the only actor who multi roles, Wells also puffed himself up (complete with pre-entrance push ups, I'm informed) to play Phaedra's abusive thug father, Troy, a role in which he was truly quite terrifying, flanked by leering thugs portrayed by Kellet and Kamper. A highlight of the show throughout for me, was Chris Borne's depiction of the Professor, quickly loosing his faculties but displaying moments of poetic clarity. His performance was beautiful, tragic and hilarious in equal measure and he without doubt will have many starring roles ahead of him.

But of course the heart at the centre of this shows body is Rooster Byron, the bloody organ which is the source of the life of each character connected to him. Saul Boyer is, in many ways, unable to be translated into a review. Upon watching the show I can not identify a man I have ever known or seen on the ADC stage that could have played this part. Boyer was a triumph- a million men born from countless storytellings, car crashed together into a solid mountain of character, around which the microcosm of the play converged. At the conclusion, stood centre stage, drum in hand, melting skin dripping from his cheeks, Boyer was immortalised as Byron. And I would have him on that stage permanently, there with those trees, where he so obviously belongs.

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