If you enjoy spectacle dressed up by acrobats as hammy slapstick, you'll probably have fun at "Jump."
If you enjoy spectacle dressed up by acrobats as hammy slapstick, you’ll probably have fun at “Jump.” The Korean performers of Yegam do everything but fly in this 90-minute martial-arts demonstration, leaping off the walls and swinging swords and staves at one another with impressive stamina and speed. Despite stray trappings of farce and commedia, it’s more a stage version of “Kung Fu Hustle” than actual theater, but it’s certainly something to see.
Looking out at Tae-Young Kim’s set (a high-ceilinged dojo with gently curved walls), it’s easy to imagine possibilities for “Jump” and entertain high hopes for the various weaponry mounted on the walls. The Old Man (Woon-Yong Lee) begins the proceedings during the pre-show, hobbling through the aisles and asking innocent audience members to carry him across the theater (he’s heavier than he looks, folks). It’s a gag, of course. Before long, this guy will be hurling himself through the air like an Olympic diver without the aid of a pool.
As the show opens, the cartoony family enters and performs what passes for the show’s narrative. The thrust of the story is that the Son-in-Law (Byung-Eun Yoo) is a polite young man until he takes off his glasses, at which point he becomes a nutty-professorial love machine and fighting master. The rest of the time, he’s as meek as a kitten, leading to difficulty in both love and combat.
It’s not terribly complex, admittedly, and much of the humor is decidedly unreconstructed: The cast pulls pranks on good sports of both sexes, and the joke on the female audience member is a bit insulting.
But for all but the most uptight audiences, PC concerns will vanish once the house is inexpertly burgled by Yun-Gab Hong and Seung-Youl Lee and the spectators are left out of the proceedings. The setup delivers plenty of lights down/lights up gags ala a lesser English sex farce, but the actors’ mastery of martial arts becomes a startlingly appropriate aid to broad physical comedy. Rare is the actor who can turn a double backflip during a pratfall.
The end of the show sends up action movies and videogames in a way that only the stage can — witness the slo-mo instant replays and verbal sound effects as Grandfather (Sang-Cheul Lee) puts an end to the burglars’ chaotic invasion. The other actors lift him off the ground and carry him slowly over the stage as he “re-enacts” an impossible multiple-kick move, making plosive impact noises with his tongue. You can almost hear the “Mortal Kombat” announcer mutter, “Finish him!”And that’s the show, with a final curtain call of progressively greater leaps until the end, when the most talented performers run straight up the side wall and flip backwards onto the stage, landing with a flex and a bow. Eugene O’Neill it ain’t, but who’s to say it’s not fun?