Review: Jerusalem – Jeremy “Jez” Butterworth. Next Stage Theatre Company – Mission Theatre
The now iconic, if unnervingly prophetic, drama penned by Butterworth prior to the riotous summer of 2011 is still as hard hitting and disturbing as ever; Next Stage are revisiting their gloriously successful production from January 2012 with a little changed cast and again establish themselves as one of the best production teams in the region.
Under the direction of Ann Garner the Mission chapel is transformed into a corner of woodland in Wiltshire which has been home to the foul mouthed, drunken drug taking Rooster whose values clash with those of the society around him. The character is a marvellous creation by a writer and no doubt will become a role that many professionals will seek to have the opportunity of playing. Tim Evans inhabits every aspect of him in this extraordinary performance - from a sniff to a stare, the commitment ensures that moments of silence are equally loaded as the ranting tirades against the society that isolates him.
The theme of society v anarchy is not necessarily a new one but the way that Butterworth has defined these characters, all of whom are in search of escape and live in fear of entrapment, is all too telling and the painful truth and emptiness of “broken Britain” cuts deep. The underage drinking, drug taking is evident and whilst Rooster endorses it, it is without doubt that he cares deeply for his young friends and the elderly professor, a wonderful performance by David Dunn both sincere and vulnerable. Andrew Ellison’s “Ginger”, a sad figure as the long time companion of Rooster who dreams of being a DJ, is a great stereotype whose adult life is at odds with his reality – but in a less obvious way to his “Gyppo” friend.
The strength of this production lies in the company who work seamlessly together creating a convincing team of friends. Lee (Tom Ash- Miles) and Davey (Joshua Ward) are compelling actors whose bravado thinly disguises the futility of what their daily lives are or might become. There is not a weak link in this chain; the thought provoking drama continually challenging us to reconsider the labels society put on people and how we should not judge those who choose not to “conform” to the status quo.
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The language is ripe, the themes hard hitting but theatre has the wonderful ability to make an audience think and feel; life does not always have to be comfortable.
Get a ticket, if there are any left – a triumphant return of the Rooster, don’t miss it!Box Office: 01225 463362; www.bathboxoffice.org performances run until Saturday.