When Jump was first mentioned to me, I have to admit I viewed it with an element of trepidation, and the 1970’s hit ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ going round in my head. Although I’m very much fan of dance in all forms, I’m more of a Swan Lake and Giselle sort of girl (i.e. my inner child is still mightily angry with me for never achieving my childhood ambition of becoming a ballerina) than what is described as a combination of comedy, martial arts and dance. But on the basis of sell out shows across Europe, Asia and American and it’s own permanent theatre in Seoul, I was prepared to suspend my disbelief and I’m glad I did.
Jump tells the story of a madcap dysfunctional family who are targeted by burglars and use their martial arts talents to defend themselves and thrill the audience. With a spectacular hybrid of the 1970’s show Monkey, crossed with slapstick, a dash of perhaps overly stereotyped Korean families and a hint of The Matrix, only the sternest of critics could fail to find something in Jump that entertains.
Lightening fast moves
Admittedly, from a technical perspective, the dance is more acrobatics than Strictly, but it’s as visually engaging as any show you can imagine. With lightening fast moves and jumps, the performers seemingly fly across the stage as if on wires. Every move is executed with pin point accuracy and timing, with a deftness and lightness of foot that would have even the finest ballet corps scrabbling for a few extra hours rehearsal time at the barre. And to be honest they need to be. So slick and well choreographed is this display of acrobatics that one false move and this production would rapidly turn from a spectacle to a blood bath.
Laugh out loud funny
But don’t let the movement distract you from the main selling point of the show, it’s funny. It’s laugh out loud, stupid, hilarious, funny. From the ridiculous number of times the grandfather manages to stick his cane where the sun doesn’t shine, only to remove it accompanied by a loud ‘puck’ sound, to the endless pantomimesque smacking over the head of other cast members, it’s just funny. Jump not only merrily breaks through the fourth wall, it practically takes a wrecking ball to it, which is partly done through audience participation so watch out if you’re in the front rows, or at least polish up your somersaults! Yes, it’s full of caricatures and stereotypes, and the storyline is vapid and irrelevant, but if the measure of a show is the audience reaction, this show wins hands down. The audience was filled with every age group, and they were howling with laughter, to the extent that it quite often drowned out the sound effects.
Whilst there’s more than a dash of Carry On about Jump and it is a bit slapstick, don’t let it put you off, it’s an integral part of the show. As astonishing as the acrobatic element of this show is, without general silliness and predictability of the storyline (there’s even a happy ending in the form of a wedding at the end) there’s no way Jump would be the quality evening out it is.
Jump is on at the Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre until 15th November.