Every first Wednesday of the month, get caught up on what’s new on stage with a review round-up. And that vaguely hollow, clinking sound you hear at the end of each segment? That’s me tossing in my two cents. For June, let’s take a tour of two very different “cities” gracing the Great White Way:
A larger-than-life, drug-dealing Pied Piper faces eviction, partying teenagers and the disappearance of a mythic Britain in Jez Butterworth’s comedic drama, anchored by an unimprovable Mark Rylance.
“…a seismic performance that threatens to level the old Music Box Theater…” New York Times
“Jerusalem can be thought-provoking, but it’s also an exercise in nostalgia — an elegy for a country that’s lost its soul.” New York Post
“Jez Butterworth’s half-rejectionist, half-heraldic drinking song of a play…” New York Magazine
“Jerusalem succeeds, above all else, as a vehicle for the talents of Mark Rylance, who invests Johnny with a blazing, barreling intensity and a sort of sordid charisma.” USA Today
Mizer’s Two Cents: Yes, Mark Rylance is a force of nature. Yes, the play is three hours long and may prove tough for those expecting a night of jazz hands and sparkle (though it does have big laughs and a momentum that I found engrossing for much of the play). Yes, it’s deeply British but the characters and situations are universal and the language has a heightened spin that is lovely to hear. So just say “yes” to it. The opening minute alone is a brilliant piece of writing and directing, telling us almost everything we need to know about the worlds of the show (and getting a huge laugh) by raising and lowering the curtain on two contrasting visions of the set. And the final act of the play, featuring a heartbreakingly lovely monologue by Aimee-Ffion Edward (pictured above), is transcendent in the truest sense of the word; it reaches for something beyond words, something elemental that only art can touch.