The Music Box
239 West 45th St. between Broadway & Eight Ave.
Through Sunday, August 21, $61.50 - $226.50
British actor Mark Rylance (Boeing Boeing) won his second Tony award for his epic performance as drug-and-booze-addled Johnny “Rooster” Byron in Jez Butterworth’s brilliant Jerusalem. As the play opens, Rooster is hosting a loud, blasting rave at his home, an old Airstream in the woods on the outskirts of a community that wants him gone. The trailer is marked “Waterloo,” an ever-present reminder of Rooster’s continuing downfall. The three-hour play takes place on St. George’s Day, the annual holiday celebrating the legendary dragon killer on which the William Blake hymn “Jerusalem” is traditionally sung (“I will not cease from Mental Fight / Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand: / Till we have built Jerusalem / In England’s green and pleasant land”). Rooster has been served with an eviction notice, but he pays it no mind, ready to fight the power as he entertains his minions (a very motley, colorfully costumed crew that includes original Office sycophant Mackenzie Crook as would-be DJ Ginger, Alan David as the Professor, Jay Sullivan as Lee, Danny Kirrane as Davey, Molly Ranson as Pea, and Charlotte Mills as Tanya) with mad tales of fairies and giants told with a Falstaffian gallantry that mixes in plenty of Don Quixote and Baron Munchausen. The Shakespearean play takes a turn from the bawdy to the serious when Rooster’s ex-girlfriend (Geraldine Hughes) and their young son, Marky (alternately Aiden Eyrick or Mark Page), shows up, expecting Rooster to take the boy to the local fair. But Rooster is in no condition to play dad at this point and casts his family away, and he is soon plummeting for rock bottom after learning a nasty secret about his supposedly loyal followers. The former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, Rylance is spectacular as Rooster, embodying the larger-than-life character with his every movement, from his severe limp to his magical intonation. Swiftly directed by Ian Rickson and also featuring Aimeé-Ffion Edwards as a missing girl who opens each act in song, Jerusalem is a must-see production that is ending its four-month run at the Music Box on Sunday. Tickets are still available at the box office and at the TKTS booth; don’t miss this last chance to experience this dazzling production, led by an unforgettable performance by a master craftsman.