Set design in particular is a highlight of this production. Tom Bannerman’s conversion of the stage into a dramatically evocative backdrop is absolutely essential to the storytelling. The creation of five different entrances is intelligent, and along with lighting, mood is established long before the first actor appears.
At the heart of Jerusalem is a tale about land rights and commercialism. It has interesting parallels with contemporary Australian issues involving Aboriginal communities and how they are situated within the economy. This English play makes arguments about territorial ownership in relation to ancestry and money, and how these tensions manifest socially.
If Butterworth’s ideas had been applied in a localised context, their impact could have been even greater. Instead, the show is left unmodified from its foreignness, which gives an eccentric and exotic quality but demands more from the audience, as its cultural specificity is at times challenging and complicated. (SW)
Until Sep 14, New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown, $17-32, newtheatre.org.au
BY SUZY WRONG