Review Round Up: Jerusalem, Apollo Theatre

Love London Love Culture rounds up what the critics have had to say about the return of Jez Butterworth’s play to the West End.

© Simon Annand

WhatsOnStage: ***** “But I worried that this revival, with Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook returning to their original roles as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, roistering king of misrule and his timid hanger-on Ginger, might somehow disappoint. Silly me! The production is, if anything, even better than before, the performances richer, the strain of melancholy that underpins its fierce comic energy stronger. It is a masterpiece of the first order.”

The Guardian: **** “Is it the greatest play of our times? Not in my view. But Rylance’s Rooster is surely the greatest performance of the century.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Does Jerusalem deserve this revival? Unquestionably, yes. You could watch this play, and Rylance’s performance, every night of the too-short run and still find new dimensions to wonder at. Well, you can’t, because it’s sold out.”

Time Out: ***** “I doubt the legacy of ‘Jerusalem’ the play is really going to be settled until Mark Rylance leaves it, because the power of Rooster Byron as a character is so hard to separate from his performance (there have been smaller productions around the world, but nothing approaching the scale of this one). Which is just fine: all the endless discussion of ‘Jerusalem’ feels a bit irrelevant when you’re confronted by the elemental reality of the thing itself. Leave it to future generations to decide where ‘Jerusalem’ goes on a list. For a few months, it has returned to our dark, satanic mills. Come, you giants!”

The Independent: **** “Jez Butterworth’s hit 2009 play Jerusalem takes a small, grubby woodland clearing and fills it with a distinctly English kind of magic. Not the twee, spangled kind of faeries and spells. Something rougher and darker, and as gnarled and twisted as an old elm tree. In this revival, arriving more than a decade since the play first premiered, all the old magic is intact and potent as ever.”

The Times: ***** “There is something magical going on in the Wiltshire woods as Jez Butterworth’s modern masterpiece returns in all its ragged glory. First seen in 2009, often fêted (including in The Times) as the play of the century, with a larger-than-life lead turn by Mark Rylance, its pricey, all-but-sold-out comeback begs to be cut down to size. No show can be that good, can it?”

London ***** “Wild and whimsical, uproarious and desolate, Butterworth’s play is still a mighty force of irrepressible live theatre.”

The Stage: ***** “Thirteen years on, Jerusalem remains an extraordinary experience anchored by an incredible performance from Mark Rylance.”

The Telegraph: ***** “This revival of Jez Butterworth’s masterpiece, first staged in 2009, remains a crucial theatrical rite.”

iNews: ***** “Butterworth’s play, rooted in England’s ancient past and reaching into its inglorious present, is steeped in myths. Well, here’s one you can believe in: this is rich, haunting theatre – and Rylance is, once again, unforgettable.”

The Arts Desk: ***** “The intricate tapestry of Butterworth’s engrossing drama is the fabric that ties together these moments of unforgettable artistry. While Rylance’s blistering, guttural performance may be the centrepiece of Jerusalem, the production at large stands its ground with formidable rigour.”

Jerusalem will play at the Apollo Theatre until the 6th August 2022.

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