REVIEW: Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth starring Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook, Apollo Theatre London, 19th October 2011

“A comic, contemporary vision of rural life in our green and pleasant land, Jez Butterworth’s epic play is wildly original. In part a lament about the erosion of country life and in part a rebuff to the antiseptic modern world, it features a landmark central performance from Mark Rylance as hell-raiser Johnny Byron, ‘a performance so charismatic, so mercurial, so complete and compelling that it doesn’t look like acting’ (Evening Standard), and a superb ensemble cast including Mackenzie Crook who excels as Johnny’s sidekick Ginger.”

So much has been written about this play, mostly in superlatives. I didn’t manage to get a ticket for this first time round in the West End so I made sure on its return from the Tony Award winning run on Broadway that I got one.

I’m a huge fan of Mark Rylance – there are too few fearless actors any more and he is always willing to push the boundaries of performance and always so utterly magnetic.

I hate to jump on the band wagon but I really must add my own praise into the mix. This was an absolute tour de force – I have no idea how Rylance can keep up the focus or summon the energy to give a performance like this night after night. He is spell-binding. The dialogue is a treat and it was genuinely rib-achingly funny in parts and heart-rendingly sad in others. Praise must go to the rest of the cast – Mackenzie Crook and Alan Davis in particular.

This was a thing of rare quality and a real privilege to see.

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