Crook plays Ginger, friend and partner-in-crime of Johnny Byron (Rylance), who is a limping, caravan-dwelling ex-stuntman and all-round village rogue and modern-day Pied Piper. It’s St George's Day, the morning of the local county fair, and Johnny is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his children want their dad to take them to the fair, Troy Whitworth wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of mates want his ample supply of drugs and alcohol.
Described variously as a “feast of British character acting”, “startlingly brilliant” and “one of the must-see events of the summer”, suffice to say Jerusalem can be counted a palpable hit with the overnight critics. With a running time of over three hours (including two intervals), Butterworth's epic comedy was described by Whatsonstage.com's Michael Coveney as “an alternative state-of-the-nation play”, and by The Times' Benedict Nightingale as a “state-of-Olde-England play”. But differing definitions aside, they and the rest of the critical vanguard were united by their appreciation of the “ribald humour” Rickson's “superb” direction and the “beautiful” acting of the company. The “effortlessly charismatic“ Mark Rylance wasn't so much showered as drenched in praise, while Mackenzie Crook and Tom Brooke were singled out among the “first-rate support”.
- Theo Bosanquet & Ashley Alexander
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