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Review: ‘Jump’ by Shattered Globe has a strong lead performance and characters stuck on a bridge


Bridges loom large for those who live in Brooklyn, and one such crossing is the central image in “Jump,” a poetic, newish play by Charly Evon Simpson, who resides in that outer borough.

The verb that makes up the title suggests some of this very serious work’s themes: depression, grief, the search for mental stability, the consequences of suicide for everyone involved. Simpson’s play, written before the pandemic but now in its first Chicago production by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, doesn’t have a traditional structure but unspools its story at a measured pace.

Much of the emotional power of director AmBer Montgomery’s Shattered Globe production comes from a truly lovely and strikingly fearless performance from Jazzma Pryor who plays Fay, the work’s central character.

Fay, a Black woman in her late 20s, has many struggles. Her mother has recently died and Fay must sort through her belongings with her sister, Judy (Jennifer Glasse), with whom she seems to have a complicated, even needling relationship. Fay’s unnamed father, played by Alfred Wilson, appears to be an alcoholic, lost in his own world. And then there’s Hopkins (Jeff Kurysz), a young person who has troubles of their own and with whom Fay hangs out at the metaphoric center of the bridge. A place where something has clearly happened, something that keeps drawing this family back to its span.

  • Jazzma Pryor and Alfred Wilson in “Jump” by Shattered Globe...

    Jazzma Pryor and Alfred Wilson in “Jump” by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit. (Liz Lauren)

  • Jazzma Pryor and Jeff Kurysz in “Jump” by Shattered Globe...

    Jazzma Pryor and Jeff Kurysz in “Jump” by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit. (Liz Lauren)

  • Jeff Kurysz and Jazzma Pryor in “Jump” by Shattered Globe...

    Jeff Kurysz and Jazzma Pryor in “Jump” by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit. (Liz Lauren)



For much of the 90 minutes, you think you are watching a play about a family’s grief-induced crises, and so you are, although things are not entirely as they seem. Simpson’s writing is very stylized, laden with symbolic weight  (the script to the play feels like you are reading poetry) and the language carefully wrought.

I think this production needed higher stakes and more emotional intensity throughout. Visually, it often struggles to find its center and there are times when it feels like Pryor is just working at a different pitch from everyone else.  With this kind of writing, where ordinary language hides great personal feeling, everything has to be ratcheted up to meet its demands, albeit not at the expense of veracity. That’s a tricky needle to thread and this staging sometimes struggles to create either enough scene-by-scene tension or a consistent world.

Still, there’s plenty to admire here, not the least being Pryor’s performance, an apt match for the level of authorial compassion and honesty on view in this work.

Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.


Review: “Jump” (2.5  stars)

When: Through June 1

Where: Shattered Globe at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Tickets: $15-$52 at 773-975-8150 and sgtheatre.org


Chris Jones , 2024-05-10 12:30:50

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