Your Views: Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre

Please note this blog is no longer active. This post was last updated 7 years, 18 days ago and may contain out of date prices, opening times, links and information. Go to for the lastest visitor information for London.

Jerusalem, Jez Butterworth’s award-winning play, opened in the West End last night at the Apollo Theatre.

I was lucky enough to see a preview performance last week. Jerusalem is incredible: funny, thought-provoking and refreshingly different. And Mark Rylance’s performance as the central character, Johnny “Rooster” Byron, is quite spectacular.

It was also impressive to see how many celebs were in the audience. We spotted Clive Owen, Felicity Kendal, Ben Miller, Nigel Planer and one of the Spandau Ballet boys. It’s clearly the show to be seen at!

We asked some (non-celebs) in the audience for their views on the play:

Barry, 33, from South Woodford
“If you only see one play this year, go and see Jerusalem. Beg, steal (well maybe not that) or borrow the money: it’s well worth it. Mark Rylance is beyond brilliant.”

John, 28, from Northampton
“I thought it had everything: it was funny, challenging and beautiful. Mark Rylance’s performance is an incredible feat and it was the best night I’ve had at the theatre for ages. And the celeb-filled audience was the icing on the cake!”

Jean, grandmother, from Bristol
“The language may be blue in this green and not always pleasant land – but this is an extraordinary piece of theatre. Mark Rylance’s performance is electrifying.”

Lilac, 32, from Sydney
“Jerusalem is a rollicking rollercoaster of emotion, enjoyment and evangelism – although not in the obvious sense. We’ve all known, if not been, the “king of the kids” at some point in our lives and I observed the antics of “Rooster”  Byron with equal parts nostalgia and relief! The play is thought-provoking, poignant and also bloody funny. Well worth seeing.”

Jenny, 27, from Essex
“I agree with all the praise for Mark Rylance’s performance – one of the most gruelling I have seen as he is on stage for almost the entire duration of the play, which clocks in at more than three hours.”

Josephine, just over 40, from Mortlake
“This is the best play I’ve seen in ages – funny, moving, razor-sharp dialogue, original, memorable. The main character dominates proceedings brilliantly, though the rest of the cast move in and out of focus superbly well. As well as a good laugh, the story really makes you think about life’s values. Not for readers of the Daily Mail.”


  1. Claire says:

    I thought it was great, Mackenzie Crook missed a trick not mentioning “Pirates of the Carribean” as one of the floats in the parade though!

  2. David Irvin says:

    Briliant acting by Mark Rylance, very funny First Act. But ultimately the play loses direction and fizzles out. Rooster does not have the stature of a Falstaff, in fact is a very unattractive Lord of Misrule. Fundamentally he is a self-aggrandising failure, sick at heart, morally discredited and short of what might be compensating charisma. This is a hugely entertaining play, but to claim it as anything more is deluded. I don’t think Old England was full of derelicts like this. This does not seem to me to be a morality play. I want my anti-establishment plays to have a more invigorating alternative ! And can someons tell me what is the point of the Professor ?

    • Zoe J. Griffiths says:

      Really interesting points, David. I’ve spoken to lots of people about this show, and nearly everyone seems to have something different to say about it. Someone I know thought of it as a “light comedy”; another person thought it was deeply moving, and quite sad…

      I can’t say I agree with you on the “compensating charisma” – I thought Johnny had it in spades!

      I don’t think Old England was full of derelicts either – but I can see that modern England has some, and I really enjoyed Jez Butterworth’s suggestions that this particular one is tightly bound to our strangely English heritage.

      As for the Professor – isn’t he a device? Partly for comedy, partly to voice some of the philosophical, historical aspects of Butterworth’s script?