Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Mission Theatre celebrated the 7th birthday of resident group Next Stage Company with the opening night of Jerusalem - a startling coup since its multi-starred West End production closed only last week, with queues throughout the night for the final performances. Jez Butterworth's play is about society's relationship to outsiders, national psyche, authority, change, love, loss, and basically the meaning of life: his brilliant script was also showcase for Mark Rylance as Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, the swaggering reprobate whose life blood is the sap of essential energy destroyed as wild woodlands are eroded by new estates. Comparison is impossible yet inevitable, and this bold production scores surprisingly well, finding the humour & humanity, maintaining energy & suspense, and with a positive advantage in the genuine youthfulness of Rooster's under-age woodland 'rats' which creates the credibility - and underlines the vulnerability - of his kingdom. Set, sound, and lighting are excellent, with creditable performances by all the cast and Tim Evan charismatic in the central role. Huge credit to director Ann Garner for bringing an extraordinary and important play successfully to Bath. Highly recommended - it's on till Saturday.
- as a postscript to my comments above, Mission Theatre's snatching of the Rylance baton has been noted by the arts section in the i, with a big fat picture as well as quotes from the director. Nice one Next Stage!