ACT’s “Jump” Bridges Despair and Hope
ALBANY – A bridge between despair and hope. That may just be what the bridge in Charly Evon Simpson’s Jump is meant to represent. At Albany Civic Theater’s production, it juts out over the audience as if it were a character itself. The central human character of the play is Fay, a young black woman whose family and life is in transition, and who seeks solace on the bridge that her mother took her to as a child.
After a repetitive opening sequence is used to set up the events to come, we meet Fay’s family at the threshold of her childhood home. Her older sister Judy challenges Fay at every turn, and Dad has made the agonizing decision to sell the home that he can no longer bring himself to live in. Cue Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” and a return to the bridge, where Fay meets Hopkins, who is utilizing the bridge in his own parallel way. Their first interaction is absolutely priceless, and perhaps best exemplifies the glimmers of joy that can appear out of the depths of depression.
In a rarity, all four actors in Jump are making their stage debuts at ACT. As Fay, Dalyce Uribe shows an excellent range of emotions, and is especially great in the moments of pain Fay experiences. Monet Thompson-Young as Judy was stilted in her early deliveries, but built steadily to a stellar outburst when she first appears on the bridge. As Dad, Nellson Jacobs-Moore shines in a powerful emotional dialogue about his wife. Finally, Russell Roberts (Hopkins) gives a brilliant depiction of a probably bipolar young man dealing with his own trauma.
The technical elements all work well to enhance the production. The set, inclusive of the bridge, beds and windows, is somewhat sparse, but this allows focus on what matters and yet accentuates the storytelling. Viewers may note that much thought was given to the graffiti on the bridge. The sound, both music and effects, were spot-on. They provided both moments of humor and a way to show Fay’s grief. The lights set the mood aptly and also were a window into the characters’ grief. These were a combined effort of multiple production staff members and veteran area technical guru Bob Healey; more on this below.
A production well worth seeing despite the tough material. A sensitive topic directed nimbly by Ellen Cribbs. She allows for humor and light-hearted moments, which help guide the play to its climax on the bridge and enhance the play’s message. As discussed by the house manager before the show, Jump‘s original lighting designer, Nick Nealon (Nicky Lightz) had a tragedy strike a few weeks ago, when his house burned down. This is why the lighting was a combined effort. The theater is raising funds for Nick, including donating the proceeds from their basket raffle. How fitting then that in the midst of a play with a theme of finding hope in despair, the theater is doing their best to provide hope to one of their own.
Performance dates are Friday–Sunday, February 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19.
Friday and Saturday curtains are at 7:30 pm, and Sundays are matinees at 3:00 pm. All tickets are $18. Tickets are available online through the ACT website, by phone, or at the door for any performance. Call 518-462-1297 or visit albanycivictheater.org for more information.
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