Jerusalem (NHB Modern Plays) (Royal Court Theatre)

Jerusalem - Jez Butterworth Absolutely loved it, I guarantee it'll be considered a masterpiece in years to come. It certainly deserves to be. Oh how I wish I could have seen the play performed when it was in London (it's currently on Broadway with Mark freaking Rylance) just to get the full impact of the story. Jez Butterworth's crafted a completely bonkers but highly enjoyable tale, equal parts hilarious and tragic and always very powerful. It's a vision of the real England of the 21st century in a small town that hangs onto tradition for the sake of tradition while everyone tries to cope with the changes. Rooster may not be a nice man, and sometimes he's very unlikeable, but he's a fascinating man, a complete powerhouse of tales, delusions and a fool-like clarity that reminded me of Shakespeare's most famous fool, Falstaff. A man viewed in equal parts with admiration and mockery by everyone around him, he has a view of the world nobody else has and he'll fight to the end to keep it that way. People lament the loss of the England of old but Butterworth questions whether that national identity ever existed. The teenagers that hang around his trailer hoping to score some drugs or alcohol enjoy his company and laugh at his increasingly ridiculous tales (the telling of stories is a key element of the play) but Rooster is also a cautionary tale, one that none of them want to end up like. He's the twisted daredevil Pied Piper, one they want to follow despite their common sense. The first two parts of the play are hilarious, packed full of creatively profane language and pop culture references, painting a picture of an England more concerned with parties and drinking than any sense of patriotism. It's setting the story up for the inevitable fall, one that must and will happen. It's a strange play, often surreal and ridiculous and definitely not for everyone, but there's something undeniably fascinating about Jerusalem. Part parable, part social commentary, part updated Shakespearean tragi-comedy, it's a mish-mash of perfectly organised chaos. There's a cutting intelligence behind the Cheryl Cole jokes and frequent use of the 'c' word, one that exposes the hypocrisy of hanging onto old traditions whilst exposing the real England. Packed full of iconic English imagery and metaphors, it's one that definitely requires a reread (and a national tour please!) Here's a trailer for the Broadway production: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcp4mwNQ7AQ