Jerusalem’s West End debut gets rave reviews

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If you’re looking to up your cultural intake for 2010 and enjoy a play that all the critics are talking about, you couldn’t do better than Jez Butterworth’s dark comedy Jerusalem, now playing at the Apollo Theatre on London’s famous Shaftesbury Avenue until April.

The West End production has already picked up an astonishing nine five-star reviews from the capital’s leading theatre critics, making it the hot tip for theatre breaks in London this spring. If you’ve never heard of the play before, it’s a strictly adult affair that deals with a day in the life of ‘modern day Pied Piper’ Johnny Byron, which gives audiences a distorted view of life in England’s green and pleasant land.

Mark Rylance plays Johnny, and his tour-de-force performance has been singled out as one of the highlights of the show, as the vodka-swilling drug-dealer fights against a council eviction notice, local wasters and his own children, who just want to be taken to the St Georges Day fair in their countryside town.

Although Rylance is best known for his work as director at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, it sounds like his multi-faceted performance really brings the house down, meaning his co-stars have to work twice as hard to make their own impression! The cast list includes some familiar faces from the world of theatre and television, including Mackenzie Crook – from the hit comedy The Office – in the role of failed DJ Ginger.

As well as great performances, the play also provoked discussion for its creative use of props and other ‘characters’ – including its use of live chickens and other animals (as well as real trees) to really boost the illusion of a countryside festival.

Jerusalem started out at the Royal Court Theatre in Kensington, but rave reviews soon saw it transferred to the more prestigious West End for a limited 12 week season. But it doesn’t leave you long to get down to London and see it for yourself, so if it tickles your fancy you’d best get booking!

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