Review: Jerusalem (Profiles Theatre)

| April 9, 2016

Darrell W. Cox as Rooster in Jerusalem, Profiles Theatre         
      

    
Jerusalem

Written by Jez Butterworth
Profiles Theatre, 4139 N. Broadway (map)
thru May 22  |  tix: $35-$40   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   


Now extended thru May 22nd

  

Still looking for a real story about real people

  

Patrick Thornton, Eric Salas, Lyssie Garrison, Darrell W. Cox, Jake Szczepaniak, Scott Wolf and Alison Hixon

    
Profiles Theatre presents
    
Jerusalem

Review by Lauren Whalen 

Profiles Theatre has created an institution that one might compare to Steppenwolf and Goodman. The Equity house offers its own acting program, stages many Midwest premieres and according to its mission statement, strives to create “provocative and emotionally truthful productions.” The problem with Profiles is that, unlike Steppenwolf and Goodman, Profiles doesn’t yet have the reputation to compensate for its hit-or-miss repertoire. Jerusalem tries to make a statement on the freedom of country living, but comes off as an endless vanity project for artistic directors Joe Jahraus and Darrell W. Cox.

Darrell W. Cox and Erika Napoletano in Jerusalem, Profiles TheatreIt’s St. George’s Day in England, and for the small town of Wiltshire, that means a county fair and general merriment. For Johnny “Rooster” Byron (Cox), this particular St. George’s Day begins with an eviction notice on his door. The middle-aged squatter, who keeps company with the minors to whom he deals drugs, has ignored multiple attempts to negotiate with local government and therefore must vacate his trailer and land within several hours. In the meantime, he’s supposed to take his young son to the fair and the locals are relying on him to bring the party. As the day wears on, Rooster blatantly laughs in the face of all authority – but could all good things be rapidly coming to an end?

In an interview with Playbill, playwright Jez Butterworth expressed surprise that his script received such a literary interpretation from critics. I echo this surprise: Jerusalem is bloated, condescending and pretentious from beginning to three-hour end. None of the characters are sympathetic and/or interesting: Rooster in particular is a terrible father with a nasty temperament and an all-around degenerate who’s dull to boot. Apart from the third act, where some real action occurs, the play consists mainly of hearing drugged-out characters tell stories. (If you’ve ever been to a party, you’ll know how boring this is.) On the whole, the play feels like a caricature of the lower class written from a place of privilege, rather than a real story about real people.

Darrell W. Cox and Jake Szczepaniak in Jerusalem, Profiles Theatre

In addition to its excessive length, Jerusalem boasts self-indulgence that never once bothers to include or engage the audience. It’s almost as if the play is an acting exercise and viewers are an afterthought. During the show I attended, I noticed at least two patrons leave. Plenty of yawning took place during the three-hour running time. Even the actors seemed disengaged – with so little to work with character-wise, one can hardly blame them. Only Cox and Patrick Thornton (as a senile gent known as “Professor”) seemed to buy what the playwright was selling. Despite hailing from the same town, each character spoke a distinctly different muddled British dialect: some sounded Irish, some New Yorker. Many were very difficult to understand. Additionally, Thad Hallstein’s set tries too hard to make a statement, but instead reeks of pretension and stagy self-awareness.

As a one-act, Jerusalem could have been a compelling work, full of witty social commentary with a gruff-but-charming lead character. Instead, Profiles’ production drags into infinity with a false sense of importance, steadily losing audience interest along the way.

  
Rating: ★½
  
   

Jerusalem continues through April 24th May 22nd at Profiles Theatre Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays 4pm & 8pm, Sundays 7pm.  Tickets are $35-$40, and are available by phone (773-549-1815) or online at PrintTixUSA.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More info at ProfilesTheatre.org(Running time: 3 hours, two intermissions)

Eric Salas, Scott Wolf, Jake Szczepaniak and Darrell W. Cox  in Jerusalem, Profiles Theatre

Photos by Michael Brosilow 


  

artists

cast

David Cady Jr. (Parsons), Darrell W. Cox (Rooster), Braden Crothers (Marky –  alternating), Cody Davis (Whitworth Brother), Duane Deering (Whitworth Brother), Jeff Gamlin (Wesley), Lyssie Garrison (Tanya), Alison Hixon (Pea), Christian Isley (Troy Whitworth), Theo Moss (Marky –alternating), Erika Napoletano (Dawn), Annie Pfohl (Fawcett), Eric Salas (Davey), Jake Szczepaniak (M), Samantha Tennant (Phaedra), Patrick Thornton (Professor), Scott Wolf (Lee), Broderick Baumann, Sebu Bodo, Cody Davis, Duane Deering, Colleen DeRosa, Georgia Gove, Richard Holton, Stephen Rowland, Desiree Staples, Nora Ulrey, Mary Kate Young (understudies)

behind the scenes

Joe Jahraus (director), Thad Hallstein (set design), Mike Rathbun (lighting design), Brandon Reed (sound design), AmarA (costume design), Nate Dion (production stage manager), Sammi Grant (dialect coach), Megan Francomb (dramaturg), Charlotte Drover (choreography), Bradley Bartolo (assistant director), Sam Chaness (assistant stage manager), Jason White (technical director), John Baderman (carpenter), Raquel Adorno (costume consultant), Andrea Michella (prop design), Noelle Humbert and Robin Hellmann, The Cast Station (casting directors), Michael Brosilow (photos)

Darrell W. Cox as Rooster in Jerusalem, Profiles Theatre

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Category: 2016 Reviews, Lauren Emily Whalen, Profiles Theatre

Comments (1)

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  1. John Capaul says:

    4/5 stars. “Jerusalem” presents a spell-binding glimpse at a collection of economically-defeated, self-deceiving and self-medicating people who continue to believe in the magic of their oddly-shaped dreams. It rides a wonderful roller-coaster of energy from the opening to final moments. It’s a complex chess game where pawns are protected by knights and bishops, who are protected by rooks and queens, all in service of their king. Punch and counter-punch on the way to checkmate.

    Darrel Cox is ferocious as Rooster. In the face of such a talented and physically powerful actor, the other cast members could have fallen into the shadows. Not here.

    No, Lauren, these characters are not sympathetic. Depending on your own life experiences, some are downright reprehensible. Despite their emotional swamps, they don’t pull themselves out of the muck (some even dig deeper). But to suggest that they are not interesting is just plain wrong. The fact that you had stuck a harsh, emotional reaction to Rooster as a father means the play did part of its job.

    No, Lauren, there are no theater ensembles doing “vanity” projects. There are ensembles that think they’re doing the right thing by taking risks, pushing the envelope and challenging audiences. Indisputably, it’s an excellent play. The only question is, Did Profiles rise to the challenge? Answer: Yes. Were they perfect? No … but that’s an unfair standard.