Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

SUPPORT OUR PODCAST BY BECOMING A PATRON
CLICK HERE

Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre, London 2022
Charlotte O’Leary – Tanya
Mark Rylance – Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron
Mackenzie Crook – Ginger
Kemi Awoderu – Pea
Ed Kear – Davey
Photo by Simon Annand

 

 

 

050 – Jerusalem, by Jez Butterworth

Jul 18, 2022 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem opens with the recitation of two verses of the patriotic English hymn penned by William Blake. As the title and the opening would suggest, the play is an exploration of English identity, but it approaches it through a strikingly singular lens – that of the character of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, an anarchic, anti-hero who is a thorn in the side of the established authorities and many of the local residents of the fictional west-country town of Flintock. Byron’s caravan squats illegally in Rooster Wood, and local youth come to him seeking drugs, drink and escape from their constrictive lives, in the way of successive generations of young people. Rooster represents a practical challenge to the peace of the town, and to the idea and values of modern English society.

Jerusalem was greeted by extraordinary acclaim when it premiered at the Royal Court theatre in London in 2009. The rapturous response to that production was directed at both the play and the astounding performance by Mark Rylance in the lead role of Rooster Byron. Jerusalem became a landmark theatrical event, acquiring a kind of mythical status as one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments in live theatre for those who were lucky enough to have been there. As it turns out, it was not a singular moment, because the show has been revived this year in London’s West End with almost entirely the same cast, including Rylance, and directed once again by Ian Rickson. It is appropriate that we mark the 50th episode of our podcast with a play that is undoubtedly one of the high-water marks of our time. The revival provides us another chance not only to revisit or discover this sensational theatrical experience, but also to explore the enduring qualities of the play itself. What is it about this text that weaves such magic upon us?

To answer this question and more about Jerusalem, I am joined today by someone who has been fortunate enough to have seen both incarnations of the play, and also studied the work of Jez Butterworth in great depth. He is David Ian Rabey, who is Emeritus Professor of Theatre and Theatrical Practice at Aberystwyth University where he taught for 35 years. He is also the author of The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth, published by Bloomsbury in 2015.

David Ian Rabey
David Ian Rabey is a dramatist, director, performer and Emeritus Professor of Theatre and Theatre Practice at Aberystwyth University, where he taught for 35 years, until 2020. Prior to this, he started his career as Lecturer in English and Drama at the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

David has published numerous books on modern British and Irish theatre, including Theatre Time and Temporality (2016), English Drama Since 1940 (2003), and in-depth studies of specific dramatists: The Theatre and Films of Jez Butterworth (2015), Howard Barker: Ecstasy and Death (2009), David Rudkin: Sacred Disobedience (1997), Howard Barker: Politics and Desire (1989) and, most recently, Alistair McDowall’s POMONA (2018). He has published additional essays on these dramatists, and others, including: debbie tucker green, Ed Thomas, Ron Hutchinson; and on contemporary Gothic drama.

He is Artistic Director of Lurking Truth/Gwir sy’n Llechu Theatre Company, for which he has written six plays, the first four of which are published in the volumes: The Wye Plays (2004) and Lovefuries (2008). A third volume is intended.

Recommended Play

David recommended Pomona by Alistair McDowell

Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on Jerusalem include thoughts on the choice of Byron for Rooster’s surname, his retinue of Lost Boys, and the wonders of the stagecraft in the play and London production.

Patreon Page

BECOME A PATRON!

Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.

For details click here

Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
Douglas

The Texts
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them from our selected partners Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s. Not only will you be supporting independent booksellers, we will also earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Click on the cover to buy from our chosen partner. Thank you.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also be interested in …
083 – The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

083 – The Caretaker by Harold Pinter

When it premiered in London’s West End in 1960, The Caretaker catapulted its author to fame and fortune. The play is set entirely in a single room in a dilapidated house, and presents the territorial battle between three men living on the margins of society. The psychological manoeuvrings of the men are dramatised in what we now recognise as Pinter’s cryptic mix of comedy and menace, along with his characteristic relish in the precision and panache of language.

As we record this episode a new production of the play is playing in the Minerva theatre in Chichester, and I am delighted to welcome its director, Justin Audibert, to the podcast to help us explore Pinter’s enigmatic work.

082 – People, Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan

082 – People, Places & Things by Duncan Macmillan

Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places & Things is a blisteringly frank and funny portrait of addiction and invented identity. When the play premiered at the National Theatre in 2015, Denise Gough won awards for her electrifying performance, and as we record this episode she revives her role in London’s West End.

It is a fascinating and challenging play, and an exhilarating piece of theatre. I am delighted to talk with its author, Duncan Macmillan, and the production’s director, Jeremy Herrin.

081 – The Government Inspector, by Nikolay Gogol

081 – The Government Inspector, by Nikolay Gogol

Vladimir Nabokov described The Government Inspector as the “greatest play in the Russian language”. Gogol’s comedy of mistaken identity is an unexpected mix of fantastical farce and serious social satire. that has survived as a paradigm of political corruption and social hypocrisy in any age or place.

As we record this episode a new adaptation of the play written and directed by Patrick Myles arrives on the London stage, and I’m delighted to talk with Patrick about this classic play and its enigmatic author.