Rooster (and so also the astonishingly believable Rylance) is a force of nature, unable and unwilling to conform and reduce himself, constantly spinning preposterous tales, avoiding responsibility for his young son and seemingly in denial about the realities and laws of the modern world.
Butterworth’s beautiful prose surges between florid and fanciful flourishes, endlessly amusing references to local TV stations and celebrities, and the crudest profanity. The language echoes the dichotomy between the basest elements of humanity and our almost mythical heritage as its rhythms and textures musically build towards the shattering climax.
Throughout, Rylance swaggers and roars, does a handstand in a water trough, capers and cavorts, but also lets slip glimpses of bleak knowledge, and deep compassion for the flawed creatures around him.
It is a staggering and immersive experience that exhilarates to watch and elevates both those on stage and the spellbound audience. Rylance isn’t acting, he simply is Rooster. It’s not the performance of his lifetime, it’s the performance of all our lifetimes.
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