Review: A JUMPING-OFF POINT at Round House Theatre

This play is deservedly a part of the third annual National Capital New Play Festival which is a marvelous means of developing new and stimulating plays.

By: Apr. 17, 2024
Review: A JUMPING-OFF POINT at Round House Theatre
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An exploration of what constitutes the writer’s role and ownership of material, issues of representation in the arts, racial politics and the messiness of friendship and caring are all threshed out in Inda Craig -Galván’s play A Jumping-Off Point. Now being presented at the Round House Theatre, this 90-minute play is provocative, topical, and moves briskly. The various issues it explores, however, cannot be fully explored too well in a play that tries to be too many things at once.

By trying to interject too many themes the play proves to be a bit nebulous at times. Director Jade King Carroll helps develop the shifting mood and tone by directing a top-notch group of actors, but the themes never really gel. At the blink of an eye, highly charged lines from the play ---which deals with emotional accusations of plagiarism at the core--- are tempered down by fast-moving technical optics such as a revolving stage to present various scenes.

House lights are brought up at various intervals to make the actual audience at this play complicit with a whole new interactive level as the characters play the professional performative aspects of themselves ---but this interactive technique often distracts from the core of the narrative.

Of course, plaudits must be given for some of the intellectually challenging issues brought up by playwright Inda Craig-Galván (but they never really coalesce into one unifying whole). This play, however, is deservedly a part of the third annual National Capital New Play Festival which is a marvelous means of developing new and stimulating plays.

The acting is the force that truly keeps this play afloat and absorbing. Nikkole Salter as the central character, Leslie, combines the qualities of a driven professional with just the right touch of defiant vulnerability. Like the shards of glass that cut her hand, Ms. Salter delivers a performance that is sharply and incisively rendered.

Danny Gavigan as Andrew presents a very realistic and nuanced portrayal of a man trying to make sense of his background, acceptance of his progress in life and the need to maintain integrity amidst required professional compromise.

Cristina Pitter as Miriam acts a sort of one-person “Greek Chorus” as she makes sassy yet wise commentary on the sometimes-volatile occurrences swirling around her. Pitter has a superbly natural yet charismatic ease on stage and is especially effective in her repartee with Ms. Salter.

Scenic Design by Meghan Raham is creative and eye-catching. Lighting Design by Amith Chandrashaker is outstanding.

With a bit of tweaking and refinement, the superb acting and stimulating themes of A Jumping-Off Point will make a visit to the Round House Theatre a most worthwhile and rewarding experience.

Running Time:  90 minutes with no intermission

A Jumping -Off Point runs through May 5, 2024, at the Round House Theatre located at 4545 East-West Highway in Bethesda, Maryland, 20814.

Photo credit- L-R Nikkole Salter and Danny Gavigan in Round House Theatre's production of A Jumping-Off Point. Photo by Margot Schulman Photography.




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