If I Say Jump
Common Chorus and LittleMighty
Arts Centre Washington
What is impressive about If I Say Jump is not the storyline which, to be honest, is a little convoluted and not 100% convincing (surely there are not that many rather weird characters associated with one C of E church in Barnsley?) but the performances of actors Lynsey Jones and Richard Galloway who, between them, play seven characters.
There is another but he never appears—although he is always there, the ghost at the feast.
Jenny is the vicar of the parish. She’s separated from her husband who wants her back and sends her flowers every day. She wants a divorce; he doesn’t. In fact, he has plans for the two of them, plans which she wants no part of.
Then there’s Danny. He’s Jenny's sidekick, her best friend, a recovering addict who still has anger issues—and at the beginning of the play throws a brick through one of the church windows. On Saturday, his mate Benson is getting married to Kiera but Danny and he have just had a fight. And then there’s Peter, the dodgy builder who’s renovating the church hall at a good price. And the police are taking an interest in him…
And we mustn’t forget Mary, the rather doddery church warden, and her equally doddery husband.
And then there’s the gun. And there’s the safe in the vestry which is far from safe because everybody knows the combination. Well, it’s the vicar’s birthday—not the most unguessable combination ever, so putting the gun in the safe was not exactly the best idea.
Jenny, being a comparatively new and enthusiastic vicar, very conscious of her commitment to help those in trouble, is rather like the hero of a western rushing in wherever she feels she is needed. She is like the Lone Ranger, says director Simon Brewis who first came up with the idea and the characters of the play, based on people he met when working at a recovery centre in Leeds.
There are quite a few bad decisions made on the spur of the moment and regretted later. At one point, Jenny says something very sensible which should have made the situation better, but then she admits that that wasn’t what she actually said. Instead she said something which made the situation worse. How very human!
Clearly the success or otherwise of this play depends entirely on the ability of the two actors to create and maintain the differences between the various characters they play and on the speed with which they can swap from one to another, sometimes actually talking to another character they play. Lynsey Jones and Richard Galloway carry it off with aplomb; we are never in any doubt about who is speaking. They have given each voice and body language an individuality which is immediately recognisable.
It sounds as though it should be a serious, bleak, black piece, given all the ingredients, but in fact, although serious, it is fast-moving, funny and very entertaining whilst still making some telling points about relationships. Director Brewis keeps the whole thing moving at a fair clip and the 60 minutes pass enjoyably.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan