[THEATRE ~ SA]
Little Theatre, The Cloisters, University Of Adelaide, Wed 7 Aug.
Unlike much modern minimalist theatre it is a treat to be greeted with a full stage set of endless detail; strewn leaves, washing on the line outside an old caravan, crates of junk, and many conspicuous signs of debauchery, partying and implied poverty. This is the home of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron on the edge of what he says is known as Rooster’s Wood.
Jerusalem takes its name from William Blake’s poem of the same name that ponders whether Christ visited England, and is an epic of Shakespearean proportions. Relying heavily on symbolism of past legends (Richard III, Robin Hood) the play has Rooster Byron gather a band of outcasts around him by virtue of his wit and charm, and tales of wild fantasy with glimmers of greatness. And dealing drugs. Being part of his enclave in the forest brings his outcasts some purpose to their otherwise meaningless lives.
Though at times very funny, and with a cavalier disregard for the establishment that is quite infectious, this is not light theatre. Laced with metaphor and allusions to an alternative world of fairies, ley lines, and a shadowy forest world, it inches inexorably forward to the inevitable clash with authority. Jerusalem has been described as one of the best plays of this century, and provides multiple layers of meaning and I found myself wishing I had read it first. Aside from plot there’s a lot to take in.
The play’s success to a very large extent depends on the role of Rooster Byron, and Brant Eustice does a fine job of realising a complex character full of contradictions. Robert Bell as Ginger the wannabe friend is the only one with the spunk to openly challenge Rooster and is entertaining and colourfully garrulous. Adrian Barnes is delightful as the eccentric mad professor. But there are mostly strong performances all round.
It’s a long play and at times quite demanding. The uneducated working class English accents added authenticity, and were done well but occasionally made dialogue hard to catch. I enjoyed Jerusalem; it’s time for me to find a copy to read and discover what I missed!
[Note: The Little Theatre was very cold so rug up!]
Jerusalem continues at Little Theatre, The Cloisters (Gate 10 off Victoria Drive), University Of Adelaide, at various times, until Sat 17 Aug.
Book at TryBooking. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Norm Caddick
Director: Nick Fagan
Brant Eustice as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron
An Amateur Production by Arrangement with Dominie Drama on behalf of Nick Hern Books and proudly presented by The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild Inc.