Jump

Yegam Theatre Company
Peacock Theatre, Sadler's Wells
(2009)

Production photo

Jump makes a triumphant return to the UK after leaping around the globe with its unique mix of martial arts, slapstick comedy and audience participation. The Korean company Yegam throw heart and soul into this high octane show that owes just as much to classic situation comedy as any action movie.

With a pumping soundtrack and facial expressions as flexible as their highly trained bodies, the show succeeds in being highly scripted without any spoken dialogue. Set within the household of expert fighters with skills ranging from tae kwon do and tae kgyeon to national level gymnastics, Act One consists largely of choreographed fight scenes in which the family show off their skills to a mysterious suitor that the Grandfather has brought to meet the daughter.

In Act Two however, the safety of the family is threatened when they are burgled by a contrasting set of villains. The first, sleek and muscular, poses a real challenge whilst the second, clumsy and bungling, is no match for the technique of the clan. Chaos ensues as the burglars realise that they've definitely picked the wrong house and a fight including the use of strobe, slow motion and even tap dancing follows. I'm not over-simplifying anything in my description, we never learn the actual names of the characters and the straightforward nature of the plot is one of its major selling features.

It is easy to see why this has been so successful in so many countries with characters created with broad brush strokes that are easily recognisable - the wily granddad, drunken uncle and bossy mother - and inclusion of slapstick humour and film parodies that translate to anyone with a sense of humour. It would be hard to put an age limit of such a vibrant production and the range of audience members truly suggests that there is something in the show for everyone, whether fight connoisseur or not.

As the action explodes onto the stage it is hard not to get caught up in the animated world of these dynamic performers who aren't afraid to directly engage with their spectators and play with their preconceptions. Jump is a joyous assault on the senses that will leave you wishing you could bounce and caper like these masters of movement.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston