Kim Coates ruffles feathers in Canadian premiere of Jez Butterworth's wild drama

Presented by Outside the March and Company Theatre in association with Starvox Entertainment
Written by Jez Butterworth
Directed by Mitchell Cushman

Nicholas Campbell, Katelyn, McCulloch, Brenna Coates and Kim Coates in Jerusalem. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Primal forces clash with modern progress in Jez Butterworth's hit play Jerusalem, now on stage for a limited run at Streetcar Crowsnest. Presented by Outside the March and Company Theatre, this highly anticipated Canadian premiere stars Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy) after a 25-year absence from the theatre.

Set in the fictitious community of Flintock (Wiltshire County), Jerusalem tells the story of Johnny "Rooster" Byron (Coates), a legendary ex-daredevil who rules the woods in his caravan, attracting local youth with his eccentric storytelling and ample stash of booze and drugs.

We first meet Johnny after a raging night of debauchery as he staggers out of his caravan to greet the day with a cocktail of milk, raw egg, vodka, and a sprinkle of mystery powder (Coates downs this vile concoction with admirable commitment). It is St. George's Day, on the morning of the local fair, and Johnny has been threatened with eviction by the community council who are determined to bulldoze the land and build condos—a reality he ignores with fierce defiance.

As the day unfolds, Johnny makes no effort to leave his filthy squat, littered with junk and swarming with young hangers-on, or "rats," as he calls them. The oldest of the group is Ginger (the hilarious Philip Riccio), a loyal follower who has associated with Johnny for years. Other crashers include teenagers Davey (Peter Fernandes), Lee (Christo Graham), Pea (Katelyn McCulloch) and Tanya (Brenna Coates), who crawl out of the woodwork in the first act, having slept in various nooks and crannies under and around the caravan.

Rooster's humble abode draws a broad cast of characters throughout the play, including an absent-minded professor (Nicholas Campbell); Johnny's ex girlfriend Dawn (Diana Donnelly) and their six-year-old son Marky (Evan Kearns); local pub landlord Wesley (Daniel Kash); and Troy Whitworth (Jason Cadieux), a local thug who comes looking for his missing step-daughter, Phaedra (Shakura Dickson). 

Each interaction with Johnny paints a colourful portrait of a rebellious man who is reprehensible yet tender. As details come to light about the nature of Rooster's relationship with some of his young guests, we are left to wonder, has he been taking advantage of them or are they using him? There is something tragic about the destruction of his mad way of life, and this devastation is especially poignant in the scenes he shares with his young son Marky. Butterworth explores the realities of a changing England through the character of Rooster—pitting nationalism and nostalgia for the old country against a modern worldviewwith a violent sense of urgency.

Boasting visceral performances and a grimly magical set by Nick Blais, Jerusalem is an authentic theatre experience unlike any other. Director Mitchell Cushman opens the production with an interactive party sequence during which the audience can practically smell the dirt, sweat, smoke and stale beer coming from the woods. Coates makes a triumphant comeback as the cocky Rooster Byron, strutting about in the role as if it was written just for him.

Don't miss the party. Jerusalem runs until March 17, 2018 at Streetcar Crowsnest. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2018-02-13 - Sat, 2018-03-17
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