Nora longs for "men and women being honest with each other, sorting things out," but the sexes muddle along very nicely in the merrily dishonest world of the Forest of Arden. In As You Like It, courtesy of Thea Sharrock's spirited production at the Globe, a woman disguises herself as a man, a princess as a shepherdess, and a duke as a beggar, yet all this duplicity doesn't prevent a happy ending. The young crowd cheered and clapped and sighed as Rosalind (Naomi Frederick) and Orlando (Jack Lasky) romped from tree to tree. Like the characters, they needed no encouragement to "fall into our rustic revelry."

Handsome fardel bearer: Law in Hamlet
Johan Persson
Handsome fardel bearer: Law in Hamlet
Mad forest: Mark Rylance (with hatchet), Mackenzie Crook (left),  and the cast of "Jerusalem"
Simon Annand
Mad forest: Mark Rylance (with hatchet), Mackenzie Crook (left), and the cast of "Jerusalem"

An equally rustic, if less idyllic, setting greets audiences at Jez Butterworth's sprawling and pleasurable Jerusalem. Set in contemporary England, the play opens on a woodland clearing marred by beer cans, joint ends, and a dilapidated trailer. Here resides Johnny "Rooster" Byron (an unrecognizably thuggish Mark Rylance), full-time drug dealer and occasional fortune-teller. On a bright spring morning, he ignores a notice of eviction and instead presides over the band of nuts, sluts, and outcast teens who come to offer tribute and secure cocaine. Although it seems, at first, a straightforwardly naturalistic piece—finely directed by Ian Rickson at the Royal Court—Jerusalem actually admits to magical realism. Butterworth reveals that fairies, giants, and druids still populate this forest, as does the dream of an earlier, merrier England. Also present, says Rooster, are "ghosts, I seen a lot of ghosts." In a week at England's theaters, so had I.

« Previous Page