Monday, October 1, 2007

Jump - September 30, 2007

I went to Jump knowing only that there would be a display of martial arts. There was. But there was also much, much more.

The show begins before the lights go down. An 'old man' played with absolute tongue in cheek charm by Woon-Yong Lee infiltrates the audience, asks for piggy back rides (and gets them!) and generally disrupts entire rows of people who are already seated. It's the old Bugs Bunny 'scuse me, pardon me' routine and it works. The combination of techno-video game pre-set music and the old man's shenanigans prepare the audience for the show to come.

Jump is set in a traditional Korean home consisting of an extended family - grandfather, father, mother, the drunken uncle, the daughter and her apparently shy suitor. But this family is not typical in any way. Each member is a skilled martial arts expert and every member of this cast exudes so much charm and humor that when they pull members of the audience onstage to assist in their family 'training' people were hoping to be called upon.

There is little dialogue in Jump, but little is required. The comedy is universal, familial relationships that everyone will recognize, shy young lovers getting to know each other and then of course there are the burglars. Yes, this family of kick-ass fighters has their home broken into by an Abbott and Costello like duo who bring the silliness to a new level and their arrival allows the family to stop 'training' and really let the fireworks begin.

I would love to point out specific members of the cast, but as Jump is performed in rotation by two distinct casts (except for the Old Man) I cannot be sure who was playing the parts the night I saw it. Given the level of excellence in the performances I saw I can't imagine that the other cast is any less brilliant. The jumps and leaps are performed with breath-taking grace, in fact there were times it seemed the people onstage would actually take flight. The humor is so inclusive, so warm and heartfelt that you will not be able to resist an ear-to-ear smile.

Jump is a wonderful blend of martial arts movie, silent movie and cartoon. There's even a little Superman thrown in. Keep an eye on the Clark Kent-like suitor. I guarantee you will love his alter-ego.

Go see Jump. You WILL believe a man can fly.

And you'll laugh - a lot.

Now in Previews
Opens October 7
Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th Street

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