Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

West Coast Premiere of Jerusalem at SF Playhouse

Brian Dykstra as Johnny “Rooster” Byron in Jerusalem at SF Playhouse. Photo by Jessica Palopoli

 Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

San Francisco Playhouse Artistic Director Bill English and Production Director Susi Damilano have launched the New Year with the West Coast’s first production of Jerusalem, Jez Butterworth’s epic Tony and Olivier award winning play.

Bill English directs and Brian Dykstra stars in the role of Johnny “Rooster” Byron.  On St. George’s Day, the morning of the local county fair, Byron, local waster and modern day Pied Piper is a wanted man.  The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, while his son, Marky (Calum John) wants his dad to take him to the fair.  Troy Whitworth (Joe Estlack) wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of mates wants his ample supply of drugs and alcohol. This play makes frequent allusions to William Blake’s famous poem from which the title is derived.

Jerusalem has a large cast of around 15 characters. Some of the main ones are as follows: particular attention should be paid to Brian Dykstra as the die hard, drug dealing, rural squatter and master-of-illicit-ceremonies, Johnny “Rooster” Byron. Ian Scott McGregor plays Ginger, the pathetic underdog of the group.  He is older than the others who hang around with Johnny, never having grown out of this lifestyle. He aspires to be a D.J. but is in fact, an unemployed plasterer.

Richard Louis James plays the Professor both vague and whimsical—he spouts philosophical nothings and unwittingly takes LSD. Joshua Shell plays Davey, a young teenager who visits “Rooster” regularly for free drugs and alcohol. Joe Estlack is Troy Whitworth, a local thug and villain of the play who beats up Johnny.  Paris Hunter Paul is Lee, a young teen who enters the play having been hidden in the sofa, asleep after the first 15 minutes of the play. Julia Belanoff stars as Phaedra (Troy’s stepdaughter), who opens the play singing the hymn Jerusalem, dressed in fairy wings. Pea (Devon Simpson) and Tanya (Riley Krull) are two local girls who emerge from underneath Johnny’s caravan, having fallen asleep drunk.  Maggie Mason is Dawn, Johnny’s ex-girlfriend and mother to his child. She disapproves of his lifestyle.  Christopher Reber is a delight as Wesley, the local pub landlord who is involved in the festivities for St. George’s Day and has been roped into doing the Morris Dancing. Courtney Walsh plays Fawcett and Aaron Murphy plays Parsons, the County officials who place eviction notices on Johnny’s mobile home.

Bill English’s set is impressive, showing Johnny’s old mobile home.  This play, although beautifully directed by Bill English and performed by a very large cast is overly long at over three hours.

Jerusalem plays at SF Playhouse January 26-March 8, 2014.  Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7p.m., Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 415-677-9596 or go online to www.sfplayhouse.org. The SF Playhouse is located at 450 Post Street (2nd Floor of Kensington Park Hotel b/n Powell and Mason), San Francisco.

Coming up next at SF Playhouse is Bauer by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Bill English, March 18-April 19, 2014.

Flora Lynn Isaacson