By Lydia Marshall
Jerusalem tells the story of the perfect anti-hero, Johnny “Rooster” Byron, on St. Georges Day when he wakes up with a hangover and an eviction notice. His much younger ‘friends’ want his drugs, the council wants him out and Troy Whitworth wants him dead.
Despite this, Johnny is not one to be struck down and the complexity of his character is what drew me to this play. His ability to captivate and infuriate everyone he meets through his incessant need to lie is funny at times but also makes us realise how empty his life must really be. This play is at once entertaining yet leaves the audience questioning their understanding of what makes a good man. Yes, Johnny is a gypsy, a liar and a drug dealer but he has the spirit of the legendary giants he claims protect him.
Jerusalem is one of the best plays to be written this century and is so because of the perfect balance between humour and drama. This is a beautiful play about real life myths and legends and how they have taken the shape of a man you can’t forget. I sat down with some of the cast to find out what drew them to the writing and their characters.
What sort of person is going to love this character?
George Tarling: I really like it, not a conventional theatre type character, more fun than that. Anyone with anti-establishment reviews, and like drugs.
Kishore Thiagarajan-Walker: This play is for everyone and anyone.
Max Lindon: People will see their old bumbling English lecturer in my character.
How is this character like you? Different?
George: Bullshitting aspect comes naturally, always putting up a front and decides who he wants other people to think who he is rather than being honest (relatable), doesn’t give a shit – refreshing, he does it more than I do.
Kish: I’m not Ginger, but I will be!
Max: Age gap, I’m not as much of a dog person. Not really into animals, keeping pets thing ‘a bit creepy.’
What do you love about this character?
Kish: Tries to model himself a lot on Rooster.
Max: His appreciation of the mythology of England.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role? How did you overcome it?
George: Maintaining the accent, as it’s quite easy to slip in and out of. The physicality and maintaining the constant energy was hard; there are no quiet moments until the end – fun but draining. I overcome this by watching a lot of Hot Fuzz!
Kish: Lines! Sometimes the accent is difficult on some words, swearing in West Country. Extensively workshopped our accents, watched clips of the original to inspire us.
Max: Doing my daft old person voice. This makes my voice sore. Overcome with the help of water and lozengers. Chirpse Kish, overcome by closing my eyes and thinking of England.
Besides yourself, which actor in this production is going to blow people away?
George: Davey, ‘over there dancing with these amazing trees’ has the funniest lines in the play and very stupid: Adam Evans.
Why do you think people should come and see the show?
George: Honestly, [it’s] a lot of fun and not like anything I’ve seen in DST for the time I’ve been here, a nice mix of comedic moment with some really solid characters and interesting developments
Kish: Best play written this side of the millennium.
Who’s the funniest person in the cast in real life?
George: I’m up there, everyone has their days but I’d say myself.
Max: Kish tries hard but there’s not much too him.
Have you ever been on a caravan holiday?
George: Yes, I used to every year when I was younger, with family friends. ‘I really love a caravan’.
Kish: God no.
Max: I’ve been on an RV holiday.
A fun fact about yourself.
George: At one stage I had ballet, ice skating and horse riding lessons – ‘triple threat’.
Kish: I breathed the same air as Mark…
Max: I met Jez Butterworth this summer.
Letterbox Productions presents Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th February 2018 at The Assembly Rooms.
Photograph: MLD Photography & Videography