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Jerusalem (NHB Modern Plays) Paperback – 9 July 2009
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"The key British theatre work of the last decade." Time Out .
"An Instant Modern Classic." Telegraph.
BEST PLAY Evening Standard Awards.
BEST PLAY Critics Circle Awards.
BEST PLAY WhatsonStage Awards
'My dad said he jumped buses. Horseboxes. Jumped an aqueduct once. He was gonna jump Stonehenge but the council put a stop to it.'
On St George's Day, the morning of the local country fair, Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, local waster and Lord of Misrule, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his son wants to be taken to the fair, a vengeful father wants to give him a serious kicking, and a motley crew of mates wants his ample supply of drugs and alcohol.
Jerusalem premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in July 2009 in a production directed by Ian Rickson and starring Mark Rylance. It transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in January 2010, and played on Broadway in 2011. It retuned to the Apollo Theatre in 2012 and again in 2022.
Jerusalem is also available in the collection Jez Butterworth Plays: Two.
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A new play of irrepressible energy, wonderful wit and wild wonder. --Sunday Express
An invigorating, yelping, defiant portrait of 21st century shires England. --Daily Mail
Proves to be even better than its ecstatic publicity suggests. --Independent
Refreshing, humane, touching and wickedly funny. --Evening Standard
Spellbinding, exuberant and glowingly atmospheric. --Time Out
An instant modern classic. --Daily Telegraph
A hilarious, enchanting, affecting evening...one of the juiciest roles in living memory --The Times
A riveting hymn to England. --Daily Express
This play, this production, this performance are sensational. --The Financial Times
Jerusalem will surely wind up trailing trophies like pots on a tinker's wagon. And it's easy to see why. --Daily Mail
Jerusalem is a great frame-busting play that still exists solidly within a conventional framework. It could have been written in almost any year from the 1920s onward. Yet this work takes you places distant, out-of-time places that well-made plays seldom do. And it thinks big transcendently big in ways contemporary drama seldom dares.
One of the indispensable things that art does is find grandeur in unexpected places. Shakespeare saw it in a fat, craven gourmand named Falstaff; Mr. Butterworth and Mr. Rylance have located it in another hedonist and fabulist. While refusing to make him heroic, or even likable in any traditional sense, Jerusalem persuades us to accept Johnny as one of the last of the titans, a man who taps our lust for life lived large and excessively, without social restraints. He incarnates the spirit of a mythic England that may never have been but that everyone, on some level, longs for.
We theatergoers too are starved for a sense of the mythic, for performances we can talk about with glassy-eyed rapture in the years to come. Mr. Butterworth, Mr. Rickson and Mr. Rylance have provided us with that opportunity. Except in this case the mythic is no mere myth. Mr. Rylance also captures to a degree I can imagine no other contemporary actor doing Johnny's vast, vital, Falstaffian appetite for pleasure, for independence, for life itself. His Johnny Byron is truly a performance for the ages. --New York Times
I hope that the majority of people who haven't had the chance to see Jerusalem might get enough of a dim, distant echo to perhaps go out and read the play. --Andrew Marr on BBC News
About the Author
- ASIN : 1848420501
- Publisher : Nick Hern Books (9 July 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 128 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781848420502
- ISBN-13 : 978-1848420502
- Dimensions : 12.95 x 1.02 x 19.81 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 2,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
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In his use of language, Butterworth is more post-Pinter than he is post-Shakespeare. But neverthless, the distant echo of A Midsummer Night's Dream does haunt this play. And like Shakespeare, he does pepper the text with snatches of old songs, at least one of which is worth quoting here:
To see a strange outlandish fowl,
A quaint baboon, an ape, an owl,
A dancing bear, a giant's bone,
A warlock shift a standing stone,
A rhymer's jests, a juggler's cheats,
A tumbler showing cunning feats,
A morris dance, a puppet play,
Mad Tom to sing a roundelay,
All this upon St George's Day!
In the dialogue, Butterworth captures the idioms of speech, down Wiltshire way, so very well that one might easily mistake him for a native son of that county. Just as he captures the sense of England's "pleasant pastures" disappearing beneath a slew of by-passes and identikit housing estates.
What repeatedly enlivens the play - and possibly seperates it from the Pinter - are Butterworth's twin senses of humour and of fun. Bad things may happen, but there is nearly always a joke to hand. And he likewise adds colour to it with a liberal sprinkling of contemporary pop-culture references. Although quite how badly these may date with the passage of time, is anybody's guess.
The characters - Johnny, Ginger, the Professor, et al - are very well drawn, which is to say that Butterworth conveys a strong sense of their individuality, as characters. By the time the play ends, you feel as though you know them very well.
So, is Johnny Byron devil, or wizard, or neither, or both? You will have to either read the play, or see it, in order to answer that question for yourself.
i am currently studying this as an AS literature student and it is possibly the best play that we've had the fortune to study- the imagery and reference to mythology and the slightly dark humour is lovely, and is brilliant to re-enact in class. even some of my friends who hate english as a subject are enjoying this play, as i think it appeals to most people. the bad language may play some part in that, though. i would definitely reccomend this play, whatever your reason to buy it is! lessons spent studying this play are some of the best, purely because of the interesting subject matter.
character as shown on a tv review programme. I would have liked to purchase the dvd of the play
but to date have not found it available. I read the play and found it quite raw and natural as one would
expect from the setting and characters depicted. I pictured the scenes quite easily from the writing.
The story revolves around one man and his determination to live and die as he wishes.
Johnny 'Rooster' Byron is described as a local waster and modern-day Pied Piper.