Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

2010 Olivier Awards – did they deserve it?

March 22, 2010

Reviewing the final list of winners for the 2010 Olivier awards, I had to ask myself: did they deserve it? Aside from Spring Awakening, I did manage to see pretty much every show that got a nod (well, a major nod – Hello Dolly also slipped through my fingers due to being staged outdoors). So, first, a look at the shows that won minor awards (each linked to my original review).

PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT – THE MUSICAL: Best Costume Design I have continued to be mystified by the popularity of this thin on the ground musical. But one thing I wouldn’t deny: it’s got great costumes. In fact, that was about the only think I really liked about the show.

The Brandstrup-Rojo project’s GOLDBERG: Best New Dance Production I disagree with this. The production was nice but the output sterile. I’m sure there was something better out there that was overlooked. Did Birmingham Royal Ballet’s E=MC2 just not count? They did it in London, too …

Royal Court for COCK at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs: Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre Well, this show was my pick for best of the year, so I’d say: yeah, damned right it was an outstanding achievement. Or perhaps “upstanding” would be more appropriate.

So – this leaves the shows that were up for the major awards. Only one thing surprised me: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF: Best Revival I thought this cat was a dog. Did the performances improve tremendously after the time I saw it? I sure hope so.

Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that JERUSALEM deserved its best actor award for Mark Rylance (though I don’t think it really hit Best Set Design – was the competition slim, or did the live chicken make the difference?). I, however, just never really “got” this play, much as I wasn’t able to quite buy Rachel Weisz (Best Actress, A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse) as Blanche DuBois. Not that she was bad, mind you, but Ruth Wilson (Best Actress in a Supporting Role, same show) inhabited her role with seamless perfection.

So we’re left with the top new play of the year. I actively go see new plays, so this is a category that matters to me. And Enron (Best Director: Rupert Goold), well, it had good direction, but it wasn’t a story for all time. And … I hate to say it … but … Jerusalem … it may be where England is here and now, but it didn’t move me. Me? I’ve been to THE MOUNTAINTOP (Best New Play), and I saw the promised land, a land where artists lose themselves completely in their roles, where I learn more about the world, where I walk out with my skin shivering with excitement. Hats off to you, Katori Hall, for making theatrical magic happen: you really deserved it.

Mini-review – Jerusalem – Royal Court Jerwood Theatre

August 8, 2009

Jerusalem is a very long play, and with 3 1/4 hours of play to discuss, and what with it being sold out, I find myself more attracted to brevity in writing about it as a change of pace. Jerusalem is what the Scottish Peer Gynt wishes it had been: a long visit with a trailer-dwelling rascal that never wears out its welcome. Rooster, the lead character, is a late-middle-age tomcat who makes a living dealing drugs and going on the occasional house-painting expedition, as required by local housewives; he’s earned the ire of nearly every person in town. Yet despite this, he’s not a bad character, though thankfully not a “lovable rogue.” He likes to party, but he’s no hypocrite, and despite the underaged shenanigans going on around him, he keeps his hands off the teenaged girls and really “gets” that what they’re doing is pretty much what kids have always been doing.

Though there’s certainly a plot to this play, to me it seemed far more about character, and creating a place and time that seemed very real (and very modern Somerset, if I’m not mistaken). I liked how real the players seemed, and enjoyed having an opportunity to hear some different voices on stage – and a more realistic depiction of life outside of Lodon than I usually see. While I don’t think there’s enough to it to make it a classic and doubt it will get revived, it was certainly worth seeing and a good night out. (Also, the sight of two teenaged girls leaping over chairs and couches to get at lines of coke is one I won’t soon forget.)