Searing drama by Jez Butterworth is astonishing portrait of England

Pocket-Size Theatre production of Jerusalem
Pocket-Size Theatre production of Jerusalem

Pocket-Size Theatre brings Eastbourne a taste of rural England with Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, playing at The Royal Hippodrome Theatre from October 13-15.

Jerusalem is known for its brilliant writing and the stunning performance of Oscar winning actor Mark Rylance who created the iconic role of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron both in the West End and on Broadway.

In an interview Rylance described Jerusalem as “satisfying a hunger in audiences for wildness and defiance. There’s a feeling that they’ve eaten something they haven’t eaten for years – something they’d forgotten, that’s really needed for their health.”

Jerusalem is set in the fictional Wiltshire village of Flintock on St George’s Day and is a tale of identity and belonging stirring a sense of place and self. It’s the day of the local fair but with traditional attractions disappearing Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron and his band of merry men and hangers-on fill their day with hedonism and debauchery, fuelled by drink and drugs.

Johnny Byron is a wanted man. The over-zealous local council are determined to evict him from ‘his’ land, his mates want his supply of drugs, his ex wants him to take their son to the fair and local man Troy Whitworth wants to give him a beating. Despite being under attack from all sides Johnny treats us to a plethora of tall tales including liaisons with Girls Aloud, being kidnapped by traffic wardens and being born with a full set of teeth to name a few.

For all the ludicrousness of his tales, there is an unsettling feeling that maybe it isn’t all hot air and bluster. Maybe there are giants, fairies and dragons. Perhaps, in all the fable and folklore, Rooster might just be telling the truth.

Despite the laughter and raucous proceedings eviction is looming over Johnny’s head and slowly events chip away at his defiance against the bureaucrats.

The once idolised local celebrity is in decline, his powers to charm are fading fast but he won’t go down without a fight.

Performances nightly at 7.30pm with additional matinee on October 15 at 2.30pm.

Tickets available from 01323 802020 or www.royalhippodrome.com.