Everyman Theatre’s production of “Jump” by Charly Evon Simpson opens with a young woman vaping while gazing off into the distance from upon a high bridge. She drops the vape into the water after finishing a puff only to have it magically replaced as an identical one floats down from the sky. This action is repeated many times as lights flicker, we hear a bicycle pass, and we become increasingly uncertain of time and place and begin to anticipate something more magical than quotidian. The girl’s face is at once impassive, reflective, lost, and found, and we hunger to know why she’s there and what she dreams. A young man smoking a cigarette joins her and without speaking they begin to share snips of songs that prompt them to move to the music. They dance with increasing ecstasy until you realize they, for reasons unknown to us, are dancing to save their lives.
…a highly emotional and rewarding evening in the theatre.
In the background, Daniel Ettinger’s set design reveals a blueprint/puzzle of Fay’s (Billie Krishawn) childhood home in a watery shade of blue. In front of the door to the house, we meet Fay’s older sister Judy (Morgan Danielle Day). The two of them have met to clean out the house after their mother’s death from cancer. The arrival of their dad (Jefferson A. Russell, Everyman Resident Company member) brings the sisters’ energy down to earth until they meet in their childhood bedroom and, in the grips of memory, revive their old game of flopping on the bed—and flopping on the bed, and more flopping, until we know something is definitely wrong here, but what? The mood of the play then shifts from comedic to mysterious. Fay returns to the bridge several times and always meets the young man Hopkins (Tony Nam, Everyman Resident Company member). Each of the bridge scenes reveals a new piece of information about the characters’ history and relationships to each other but time and place will remain elusive until the very end.
Billie Krishawn’s searing performance as Fay gradually draws the audience deeper into the emotional lives of these four lost souls. Fay’s scenes with her father sting with realism above all other moments in the play. Throughout the performance, Porchanok Kanchanabanca’s use of sound and music (some familiar, some original), is outstanding. Without revealing too much of the story, “Jump” provides a highly emotional and rewarding evening in the theatre. Director Summer L. Williams’ many credits and awards are a dream list of projects for any contemporary theatre professional. She provides a delicate bridge between despair and hope with her interpretation of “Jump.”
The serviceable set present a few problems. Much of the action takes place on the bridge which is placed understandably high given its importance to the story. However, those seated in the first few rows must spend a large amount of time looking upward. The slower pace of some of these scenes becomes more noticeable from this uncomfortable angle. Also, Everyman Theatre might consider providing a warning about the copious smoking, especially in the first half of the play. Seated in the fifth row, we experienced stinging eyes and unpleasantly hazy air, despite air purification technology. This could be daunting for those with allergies or breathing problems.
Running time: Approximately 90 minutes without intermission.
Advisory: Contains subject matter including depression, grief, loss, suicidal ideation, domestic violence, and resilience.
“Jump” runs through February 19, 2023 at Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. Purchase tickets here. Tickets start at $29. Standard box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am until 4 pm, and Saturdays from 12 pm until 4 pm. Visit the website here or call 410.752.2208 for more information.
COVID health and safety requirements: Patrons are encouraged but not required to wear masks in the theatre.