BWW Review: Profiles Theatre's JERUSALEM Is a Poetic Trip Into the Woods
It's St. George's Day and a merry band of rural England revelers wake in the aftermath of a night of debauchery. The leader of the pack, a Falstaff of sorts Johnny "Rooster" Byron, surveys the surroundings outside of his trailer home - a refrigerator, scattered bottles and chairs at a table, and a destroyed "telly." The tales begin to spin as plans for a day of fun at the local county fair are marred by an eviction notice on Rooster's door. Country life seems anything but simple in Profiles Theatre's ambitious production of Jez Butterworth's Tony winning play, Jerusalem.
With its detailed and poetic language, Jerusalem creatively tells the story of rural residents who are resisting the changes of the modern world. When the safety and comfort of their lives is threatened, the "should I stay or go" conflict rises in many of them. Their protector and ring leader, Rooster (played by Darrell W. Cox), is the touchstone of the world they know. But as his life seems forced to change very soon, so too may all of theirs.
Profile's production is well staged by Artistic Director Joe Jarhaus, who keeps the nearly three hour show moving steadily even in its quieter moments. As Rooster, Cox tackles the challenging role with great skill, energy, and toughness, but at times doesn't convey its necessary sympathetic balance.
The supporting players reveal a great sense of longing and their highs and lows are seen through many well executed moments. Jake Szczepaniak shines with a finely nuanced performance as Ginger, Rooster's best mate. Scott Wolf, Patrick Thorton, and Eric Salas all display nice range in their turns as part of this band. Erika Napoletano, as Dawn the mother of Rooster's child, grounds this extraordinary world with sincerity and sensitivity.
Thad Hallstein's set is perfect as a kind of trailer park meets fantasy world. Brandon Reed's sound surrounds the world with a fine balance of hard and soft edges.
Jerusalem is reminiscent of Shakespeare, though Butterworth has said he never wrote it with that intention. In some ways, the rural English setting feels many worlds away. In others, this place and its characters, feel like a place and people we all know. And those folks, like these, are torn between the safety and comfort at home, and the big bad world just outside their door.