REVIEW: Jerusalem – Apollo Theatre, London

“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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