Monday, 21 July 2014

Nottingham Lace Market Theatre

Written by Jez Butterworth, this is definitely a play of two halves, the second half noticeably longer than the first. I heard a couple of people saying that it could have been shorter, but where, and what do you cut, and how would that affect the flow of the story I ask.

"Jerusalem" is the story of Johnny "Rooster" Byron, a gypsy who lives in a run down caravan in Rooster's Wood and the council's attempts to evict him from his home so that they can bulldoze the place to build more housing. It's also the story really of Johnny and his "friends" who hang with him, "Ginger", Lee, Davey, the girls and the local landlord, Wesley, and the lifestyle they share with "Rooster"

In the first half we find out all about "Rooster" and the camp site friends and is a much jollier affair all round, but come part two, the play takes on a darker mood and several veiled themes are hinted at. By doing that, it gets your mind working and allows your imagination to take over the possible history of Rooster. It may have been all innocent, then again.....

"Rooster" was played marvellously by Andy Taylor, introducing a slightly softer side in the scenes with his son, Marky, played throughout the week by the two young actors Jamie Luft and Peter Daly. Apart from the softer side, Andy drew out the storyteller in Rooster, most of those stories being of the tall variety, but very entertaining stories none the less. You have to admire Rooster in his dogged fight against the authorities to hold on to what he considers to be his.

Some excellent supporting roles from Damian Frendo as Lee, Chris Reed as the accordion playing Davey, Francesca Lawson as "Pea", Hannah Lily as Tanya and Tom Orton as "Ginger" the part time DJ. I hate to say I have favourites in the cast as, especially in this production, everyone was so entertaining but I really did enjoy the comedy of Tom Orton's "Ginger".

Other supporting roles which were just as enjoyable as the others came from Clare Choubey and Gordon Parsons as the council workers Ms Fawcett and Mr Parsons and  another wonderfully comic performance by Richard Fife as The Professor. With John Parker as the bully Troy, Hugh Jenkins as Wesley and Tamzin Grayson as Rooster's wife/ex partner/ mother of Marky, Dawn.

You will love the set complete with caravan and woodland surroundings, this has to be the best scenery I've seen on The Lace Market stage so a great big pat on the back for set designer Mark James.Great props made the scenes believable and a constant sound effect loop of the distant Wessex County Fair as part of the play's St George's Day Pageant also helped create a reality for the time period and event, thanks to Gareth Morris.

I always find that the Lace Market Theatre also have the knack of getting those regional accents just right so a nod to whoever the voice coach was for this particular Wessex based play.

Brilliantly directed by Roger Newman, this is another entertaining play in what is becoming a longer line of entertaining plays from the beaten track and not so well known writers, and again, one really worth seeing for the humour as well as the intense scenes later on in the second part.

"Jerusalem" is at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 26 July.

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