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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,473 ratings  ·  84 reviews
"[A] startlingly brilliant new play. . . . A tragic and hilarious vision of life in an English country community. Butterworth’s new work was the most talked about new work of the season."—The London Paper ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Nick Hern Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,473 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it, I guarantee it'll be considered a masterpiece in years to come. It certainly deserves to be. Oh how I wish I could have seen the play performed when it was in London (it's currently on Broadway with Mark freaking Rylance) just to get the full impact of the story. Jez Butterworth's crafted a completely bonkers but highly enjoyable tale, equal parts hilarious and tragic and always very powerful. It's a vision of the real England of the 21st century in a small town that hangs o ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I go through phases of reading film or stage scripts from time to time as you get to see your own version of the performance in your mind’s eye. Besides, it’s the only way to read the works of, say, Arthur Miller, Harold Pinter or Tennessee Williams who did not write novels.

And so it is with Jez Butterworth, whose comedy, Jerusalem, was first performed to high acclaim in 2009 at the Royal Court Theatre in London with Mark Rylance in the lead role of Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron – a former fairground
Lew Watts
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After seeing Jez Butterworth's magnificent play, The Ferryman, in London recently, I asked the friend who had urged me to go to recommend another of his plays. Hence, I ordered Jerusalem, read it, read it again, and then forced myself to wait two long days to read it once more. It is quite simply stunning—achingly sad in places, and outrageously funny in others. Gorgeous writing. ...more
Claire Fuller
I did enjoy this, but I think I would have got much more out of it if I'd seen the play. ...more
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Jerusalem strains very hard for an effect it never manages to achieve, leaving us with the occasional amusing story, but far, far too much time spent with the sort of tedious drugheads whose presence in a play is meant to give us the feeling that what we are watching is 'edgy' and 'daring', but which can't help but be as boring as someone telling us "how out of it I was last night". The attempt to link the main character to the myths of old England never convinces and the play - which also tries ...more
Pauline  Butcher Bird
‘Jerusalem’ won best play of the year in 2009 but surely we’ve moved on? Isn’t there something hypocritical about middle-class theatre-goers laughing their heads off at the losers in society and feeling chuffed for not denigrating them - drug addicts whose every crass sentence includes a four-letter word and who wallow in chicken-shit - when in real life most people in the audience would shoo them away if they came anywhere near their homes? The scene is a gypsy drug-dealer’s caravan in a copse ...more
Amy Benson
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I guess this needs to be seen on stage and not read.
As a text it's really hard to get through, the language is too colourful and the characters too unpleasant.
It's well crafted and pops off the page, but to what end? As I understand, it's meant as a state of the nation play, but whatever the deeper meanings are, it all went over my foreign head.
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This was decent, but the whole time I was reading I was thinking about how much more I would enjoy seeing this on the stage. It was so vivid and easy to imagine.
David Smith
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this play. Saw Rylance in it and he was superb. Brilliant opening scene. Looking forward to seeing it again at the Watermill, Newbury soon.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
An extraordinary play--big. bold, and beautiful. Butterworth is an extraordinary talent (his play "The River" is also a fine effort even if it does not rise to the level of this) who is particularly good at layering the quotidian world on top of a mythic, at times almost Jungia, subtext. I would have loved to have seen Mark Rylance in this play--as all reviews indicated, I'm sure he was amazing. ...more
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
I read this book for university because it is a rather famous contemporary play and I expected something completely different than what the title promises. That didn't keep me from reading it within 2 days but that was more due to the pace of the story. It all happens so fast, so much information, so many characters and their stories and everything just on one day. You basically cannot stop reading because you think you might miss something. ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up. Had I not just read Butterworth's most recent play, 'The Ferryman', I might have been tempted to rate this a full 5; however, it does not QUITE reach the heights of that masterpiece, and I had a wee mite of difficulty with some of the lingo and references here that made it a slow go at times. I can still see why it was a huge success, and can just picture the award-winning Mark Rylance running away with the lead character. ...more
Ruby Shrimpton
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, plays, 2021
Rating plays is always so hard. I believe that they are supposed to be seen and heard and not read. When you're reading a play you're only getting half the product, but of course, they are much more accessible to read than they are to see. And I desperately wish that I could have seen the original production with Mark Ryland.
The character of Jonny Rooster Byron will stay with me for a long time, and has probably completely changed the way I view his "type". And the combination of traditional Eng
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know this is a great play - like everyone has said it's a great play. But what I love about it is the feeling of Pewsey and Wiltshire. I can hear the accents and know the stories of the carnival. I feel like I have the perspective of the friend of one of the teenage girls - a mad friend whose stories I've heard growing up. It's a male engrossed world that Butterworth depicts here - and probably the most sane character is Marky's mother. The other women are fairies, carnival queens, decorating ...more
Si Squires-Kasten
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
There’s a Nathan Robinson article which argues that the logic of multinational capital will inevitably create an aesthetically monochromatic world where every city looks the same. Jerusalem is most powerful to me as an articulation of this modern anxiety — Rooster’s language and values and mythology are inextricable from his location in rural England, and he is being forced out of his home by real estate agents who want to make the world look the same. It’s messy, and there are too many characte ...more
Feb 17, 2021 added it
I’m not sure how to feel on this: at the start I thought johnny was nice and a sort of bad parental figure for the children minus the drugs and alcohol he made a safe space for them to go which is nice, until it turns out he has a legitimate child who he’s barely a father to, yet I felt sorry for him at the end despite his irresponsibility,rudeness and immaturity he pushes everyone away and clings to his house/caravan because it’s the only thing he knows and now he’s losing it so sad
my enjoyment
Paul LaFontaine
Nov 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A Salisbury based man who lives in the woods, sells drugs and fights with everyone he comes across shakes his fist defiantly as the town citizens petition the local council to be rid of him.

By the criteria of what I consider good works, this play is terrible. The height of the action is when the protagonist passes out drunk and his "friends" urinate in his mouth and video it. And that is the interesting part of the play. Zero redeeming value.

Strongly do not recommend.
Adam James
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
Fast-paced, frenetic, and destructive energy propels you explosively through this witty yet vaguely nauseating play. The protagonist is a tragic (and, in my opinion, rather unlikable) loser who fails to move on in life and whose self-destructive, waster way of life creates conflict as the community he dwells troll-like on the periphery of wants to oust him.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
*2.5 stars
It’s hard to make me laugh, I’ll admit, but this for me just wasn’t funny. The comedy was found in swearing, which to me just isn’t funny, actually rather aggravating. There was hardly any plot. Got a bit weird with the giants. Also quite confusing. The stars are for the themes that are conveyed in the play.
Tim Rideout
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘School is a lie. Prison’s a waste of time. Girls are wondrous. Grab your fill.’

A scathing, visceral, angry, funny, moving exploration of England today and our obsession with nostalgia for a past that never existed.

There never was a ‘golden age’ - live in the present and look to the future.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Wow did I fins this boring and uninspiring and now I have to write a review of it for class in which I'll have to pretend I didn't almost fall asleep while reading it (more than once?). Yup, not even sorry about the one star. ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lcm-masters
I looooved this play, but it lost the final star because of the ending. It almost seemed like a completely different character, not like Johnny at all.

However, it did make me laugh several times and I HAD to read it all in one go.
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up. A fantastic play that questions 'what is the meaning of contemporary theatre.' Very funny and bittersweet at the same time. The characters, especially Byron. were all amazing. I'd love to see it performed someday. ...more
Jack Stacey
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Hear ye! Hear ye!"

This is a modern classic. Yes. Yes.
Allan Hayhurst
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
No idea what happens in this play but loved the dialogue and interchanges between the characters.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best play I've read in a long time. I hope to see it some day. ...more
Alexandra Darivaki
I’m not really a big play reader, and I can’t say I understood what Mr. Butterworth wanted to convey through this work. Overall I struggled.
Mollie Bruce
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Had to read for college but really didn’t understand what was going on 80% of the time
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this play
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“I, Rooster John Byron, hereby place a curse
Upon the Kennet and Avon Council,
May they wander the land for ever,
Never sleep twice in the same bed,
Never drink water from the same well,
And never cross the same river twice in a year.
He who steps in my blood, may it stick to them
Like hot oil. May it scorch them for life,
And may the heat dry up their souls,
And may they be filled with the melancholy
Wine won't shift. And all their newborn babies
Be born mangled, with the same marks,
The same wounds of their fathers.
Any uniform which brushes a single leaf of this wood
Is cursed, and he who wears it this St George's Day,
May he not see the next.”
“Come, you drunken spirits. Come, you battalions. You fields of ghosts who walk these green plains still. Come, you giants!” 3 likes
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