Jerusalem at the Abbey Theatre, St. Albans – REVIEW

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jerusalem abbey theatre review

I must admit that this is not a play that I was familiar with, but some research showed that the lead role was performed by Mark Rylance originally, for which he won many awards and the play many plaudits. The play has a reputation for being, shall we say ‘edgy’, due to the adult content, including frequent strong language. An interesting and potentially laudable choice for a local theatre group.

The play revolves around the character of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, played by Marlon Gill. A loner, living in a caravan close to a new housing estate, the residents of which would like to see the back of him. A larger-than-life character, living on the edge of the law.

So the positives. Marlon Gill is fabulous in the lead role. His performance is an acting tour-de-force. Many more lead roles are sure to follow. He is ably supported by the rest of the cast and an effective stage setup that makes the most of the limited space in such an intimate theatre.

The disappointment was the play itself. Widely touted as a modern classic, I found it highly contrived and frequently clunky. Apart from the lead role, the rest of the characters seemed like stereotypes bolted on. Ginger, the slightly sad loner who never moved on, a ‘Professor’ character who spouts classical lines almost randomly, a local landlord who drops in periodically in Morris Dancing garb, the father of a missing girl who has disliked Rooster for sometime, although that is never really explored. There are some nice comedic moments, especially revolving around the character of Ginger.

Overall well worth getting to see this production for the lead performance and cast. Be prepared for some very strong language.