BWW Review: JUMP Breaks Your Heart at The Santa Cruz Theater
JUMP is a new play written by Charly Evon Simpson, co-recipient of the Dramatists Guild's Lanford Wilson Award, and directed by Shannon Grounds, Shrewd Productions Artistic Director. JUMP is a story about the connections that bind us together, the experiences that lead us into the unknown, and the emotions that make us human.
The play opens with a young woman, Fay (Chelsea Manasseri), standing on a bridge in the middle of any-town America. As she paces back and forth, chain-vaping, and staring at the city beyond the bridge, we get a glimpse at the emotional turmoil that is brewing inside her. Having to deal with her mother's death, a father that drinks to forget, and a sister who, on the surface, leads a perfect life, Fay shows us how kindness and inner-strength can help us overcome the most difficult moments in life.
The relationship between Fay and her sister Judy (Allegra Jade Fox) is so real and endearing that at times, one feels like an intruder peaking throw the window of their family life. Ms. Fox (Judy), is an absolute delight and brightens the stage every time she steps in. She reminds me of my older sister, with her "know it all" attitude and a genuine care for a sibling that is craving acceptance and love. One of my favorite moments between the sisters happens at their childhood home, when the two of them "flop" on the bed, giggling like they would have done when they were little girls. There is strength and love in that relationship, and it comes across clearly amid all that sisterly banter and painful memories.
One moment of honest laughter comes at the tune of Queen when Fay meets a corky stranger on the bridge. Hopkins, charmingly played by Trey Deason, is a lonely young man with darkness in his mind. He is chased onto the bridge by his personal demons and finds hope in Fay's kindness. However, it is not until later in the story that we learn that Fay may have saved his life with a simple act of humanity.
I wasn't drawn by the relationship between Fay and her father until the very end, when Dad (Kyron M. Hayes) delivers the plea that every grieving parent wants to make to a child, the line that got my tears flowing; "Don't leave me, please". Simple yet immensely powerful.
Jumping - pun intended - from the present to the past by the way of light flickering was too subtle for this reviewer, who didn't put it all together until the final scenes. Luckily, I like stories with a twist, even if that twist breaks my heart.
JUMP is a complex story that mostly plays at the surface. There are charming moments that make us laugh and many intense ones that make us reflect on our own personal struggles. Overall, the play could have gone a little deeper, but like real life, it is up to each one of us to take what we get and make it our own.
JUMP, produced by Shrewd Productions as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, is now playing at The Santa Cruz Theatre (1805 E 7th St., Austin, TX 78702)
September 13 - 29, Thursdays to Sundays at 8:00pm
For more information, visit http://www.shrewdproductions.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Shrewd Productions