Positively inspired, spectacle, riveting.
I have seen a tremendous amount of theatre in my life. At this point, it is really hard to blow me away. Once a decade or so, a play comes along that rocks my foundation and thrills me to the core. Outside the March’s triumphant production of Jerusalem did just that.
The production of Jerusalem is pure magic. As you walk down the corridor that leads to the theatre you are transported into a woodland, and when you round the corner, a gritty wonderland awaits. This show had a significant budget and so it is no surprise what they were able to create. There are full-sized trees, a mulch-filled floor, a camper trailer, and the trunk of a car where theatergoers can buy drinks and join in on the party. The lights pulsate, the music throbs and the young cast parties wildly. I felt as though I’d returned to Burning Man—and this was just the pre-show.
Then Shakura Dickson playing Phaedra, climbs up on the camper and abrupt silence envelops the space. Dickson sings a woeful tune and the beginning of 3.5 hours of captivating theatre begins. When the ticket seller told me the running time, I shuddered. She assured me that the time would fly by and she was right. It was the type of show that I never wanted to end and that is a difficult feat with three acts.
Jez Butterworth’s script started in the UK breaking box office records before it moved on to Broadway where it picked up some Tonys along the way. Jerusalem takes place in the fictional town of Flintock based on a real Wiltshire town. We are introduced to Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, an ex-daredevil who is squatting in the forest and is the local cool guy and drug source to a bunch of teenagers. He is in a face-off with the town council, who have served him with an eviction notice—he has no intention of leaving.
Kim Coates’ performance is positively inspired and possibly one of the best performances I have ever seen. He is sexy and dangerous and his work is so incredibly detailed that I often found myself wrapped up in the intricacies of his work, missing some other action on the stage. Other standouts in the cast are Coates’ real-life daughter, Brenna Coates in the role of Tanya, Peter Fernandes as Davey, Christo Graham as Lee and Philip Riccio as Ginger.
Jerusalem delivers everything I look for in a piece of theatre. Large-scale spectacle, a riveting script, grounded and realistic performances, and a striking set complemented with an interesting soundscape and dynamic lighting. I often find myself focussing on the minutiae when I see a show, or observing the technique of the actors. It is a rare circumstance where I feel that I am sitting in the same space as the characters, truly breathing in their story.
Mitchell Cushman is a young director with a huge vision and a fresh voice. I am excited to see what he’ll do next. Jerusalem is a must see, so book your tickets now as this is sure to sell out.
Don’t miss it.
Jerusalem is onstage now at Streetcar Crowsnest Guloien Theatre through March 17. For tickets please visit: Crows Theatre