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Sadler’s Wells

 

Yegam Theatre Company presents

 

Jump

 


 

Jun-Sang Lee – Director

 

Chul-Ki-Choi – Artistic Director

 

Won-Kil-Baek – Comedy and Drama Director

 

Producer – Kyung-Hun Kim

 

Peacock Theatre

 

3 – 21 November, 2009

 

 

 

 

THE IMPOSTERSary Couzens

A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

If you’re a fan of Martial Arts, Circus or Comedy, or even tightly woven Choreography - particularly as it relates to physical humour, you’re bound to love Jump, which features all of those things, rolled into one fast-paced, rollicking show.  While surmounting language barriers by keeping speaking a minimum number of unsurprising but no less comic, well-placed English phrases, Yegam Theatre Company, the Korean group staging this challenging romp, move through their frantic paces with great precision, skill and timing. Small wonder then, that among other its’ many other successes, Jump was an Off-Broadway hit for a year!

The premise, though a simple, familial one – mother, father and daughter, visiting uncle who’s a bad example, wise old gramps, love-sick, bespectacled admirer of daughter, who initially doesn’t know he’s alive - with their atypical everyday set-up upset by two unexpected intruders, in this case, burglars, who are really, bunglers, is one that however bog standard, is nonetheless, well - designed to showcase the many talents of this fine troupe.

The 'Nutty Professor' aspects of Son-in-Law (Jeong-Soo-Lee), the bookworm in glasses who’s too shy to make passes at the household’s coy but sweet young daughter, referred to simply as ‘Daughter,’ (Jae-Rim Lee/Se-Mi Kim) is both hilariously funny and impressive, for whenever Son-in-Law’s glasses are taken off, his laughingly sexed-up Bruce Lee persona comes on - full on, complete with amazingly graceful, gravity defying kicks, twirls and leaps, as well as some hyped up body popping and aren’t I gorgeous antics.  His love interest, Daughter seems like a gently unfolding blossom at the outset before revealing her martial arts expertise through her own comic, Crouching Tiger moments.

But this is the premise on which this show operates – it pokes fun at everything that Western popular culture generally perceives to be theculture of Koreans, with broad references to Marital Arts films in general, as well as to the oft revered Matrix, though the household itself is also one often akin to TV sit-coms and the type of movies Hollywood churns out like mad, and madcap this show definitely is, whether it is operating in slow-mo or going full speed ahead!  You may not need to suspend disbelief to enjoy it, but you’d certainly have to relinquish your hold on your uptightness and keep your tongue firmly in cheek, for, as skilfully as this show is played, it is played for laughs!

Old age is also lampooned here, with one alleged oldster sitting in a seat behind us prior to the show before asking me to ‘stand up’ so I could presumably, help him manoeuvre his bended frame down the aisle to the stage. When I asked him whether he was planning on ‘throwing me over his shoulder’ as we got to the first row, he chuckled, shooing me off, laughing up his wide sleeves as I went back to my seat before thankfully, choosing another female ‘helper’ to lift him, one leg at a time up the stage steps. My suspicions were proved right later on in the show when ‘Old Man’ (Woon-Yong-Lee) demonstrated that he was one of the most agile gymnasts you’ll ever see!

But every character plays a pivotal role in this remarkably timed, totally physical, psyched up show with Mother, (Kyung-Ae-Hong/Se-Mi Kim) alternating between karate chopping, high kicking and working hard to seduce sleepy Father by tangoing him into submission with a rose between her teeth.  Though, everyone in this fast-moving family possesses championship level skills in something, be it Tae Kwon Do, Tae Kgyeon, Karate, Hapkido, gymnastic skills, or all of these! Father (Joo-Sun Kim) also proved to be one of the most agile of men threatening to outdo some of his younger counterparts during group exhibitions of martial art and gymnastic skills. Uncle, (Hang Chang Lim/Myung Jin Kim), whose red nose and ever present bottle means he enjoys a drink, takes many a prat fall during the course of the show and always comes up smiling. The senior member of this clan, Grandfather (Hyo-Sun Kim) looks a bit like an aged sage with his long white hair, and the family’s mixture of fear and reverence towards his character reflects what we would no doubt perceive as their culture’s inherent respect for their elders, squared, to great comic effect. When it comes to crooks, Burglar 1 (Sang-Rok Seo) and Burglar 2 (Seung-Youl Lee) take the biscuit, though they don’t get away with much here, not with so many canny martial arts experts around! Between them they exhibit great timing in the mis-matched ‘buddy’ sense, with one of them an expert of self-defense and the other a bloated hanger-on, which provides the latter performer with lots of comedic opportunities for his character, which he took full advantage of the evening we were at the show, garnering lots of laughs. Judging by the spontaneity of the laughter around us, we and most of the audience seemed to identify with his lumbering burglar the most, as like us, he is an out and out klutz when it comes to Martial Arts!

Music in the show is laughingly incidental, with cheesy ‘romantic’ strains wafting above tangoing Mother and Father and/or goo-goo eyed youngsters trying to steal a kiss, and cringe worthy generic rock and film music enhancing the comic tones of other scenes.

Jump is all in good fun and, taken in that spirit, the show offers an enjoyable, hard-to-beat night out for all the family, young or old, and, as an exhibition of sheer skill, grace and energy it’s also, in an impossible to define, unique class of its own!

 

 

 

http://www.sadlerswells.com/

 

 

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London WC 2

 


 

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