Three Jumpers

Mon 15th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Ellie Donnell

at 19:45 on 16th Aug 2016

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Brand new theatre company Unearthed Theatre make an impressive entrance into the dramatic world with their dark comedy, ‘Three Jumpers’. Despite being labelled a comedy, ‘Three Jumpers’ certainly does not leave you bowled over with all-consuming laughter. Prepare instead for a humorous take on a the profoundly sinister subject of suicide. As three seeming strangers contemplate throwing themselves off a bridge, the performance follows their individual experiences of depression, and the circumstances that eventually bring them together.

Lighting is effectively used to smoothly demarcate between the present day and interspersed flashbacks. The audience is encouraged to empathise with the plight of each ‘jumper’: they take turns to directly address the audience under the intense glare of a spotlight. These moments, alongside the extensive flashback scenes, display the circumstances that lead them to the bridge. Here, their situations are cemented in cynicism and gravitas.

The acting is convincing throughout, but all the more serious in the moments that count, and injects realism into a piece of theatre which aims to make light of dark matters. Crucially, its sobering subject matter is well-balanced with the random and quirky character of ‘Broomsticks’, played by Amy Housley. Her reflective jacket and neon leggings are almost reassuring to the audience when despair threatens to overwhelm each jumper. Housley's ballsy banter contrasts the vulnerability of the subject matter, and her sarcastic scoffs when another jumper reads out his own suicide note ensure that the audience remains entertained, rather than isolated. The play's ability to blur the distinction between lighthearted jest and morbid reality produces a balanced, insightful and consequential piece that unearths hidden albeit prevalent truths.

The flashback scenes contain some of the plays most pervasive and convincing acting, yet their sheer length threatens to be a little too grating at times. Lauren Waine gives an expressive and diverse performance, appearing in all of these scenes, and her ability to evoke such a jarring character who eventually considers the suicidal bridge to be a welcome break from her domestic trouble, must be commended for the parallels created between the audience and the jumpers. Both crave to escape the intensity of her character, Cardie.

For a debut show at Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Three Jumpers’ is insightful and heart provoking. Unearthed Theatre is an exciting act with a promising future.

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Ellie Bartram

at 21:31 on 16th Aug 2016

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‘Three Jumpers’: a refreshing exploration of depression, suicide and mental health performed with sensitivity and style. Presented at Greenside, ‘Three Jumpers’ is an intimate performance which pursues the ethos "we are what we are". Jumper 1, Jumper 2 and Jumper 3 arrive at a bridge between life and death. Here, they contemplate suicide, and how they have all individually reached this same point of despair.

The performance is undeniably funny: dark humour runs throughout and works effectively as a foundation from which to explore wider social issues. There are some hilarious scenes in which the everyday and the mundane are given original and unconventional twists: from discussions of suicide, pregnancy and Nazi’s on a first date, to the characterisation of Broomsticks (Amy Housley) who offers comic relief to the darker scenes on the bridge. Such light humour is highly effective: the performance is hilarious, but not inappropriate, given the nature of some of the more serious themes.

Humour, used as a vehicle through which to educate the audience about depression and suicide, exposes the darker undercurrents that lie at the heart of the play. Director Jonah York’s approach to staging suicide and mental health awareness is remarkable. Credit is due to Unearthed Theatre for tackling such issues so successfully on the stage.

The set, sound and lighting all complement each other well and greatly enhance the atmosphere. Spotlights focus on individual actors during the performance’s more harrowing moments, whilst bright lights and coloured filters are effective in lighter, more comedic scenes. Meanwhile, the directorial decision to interweave the relationships of each character enhances the fluidity of the narrative and adds to the sense of intimacy between actors themselves and between audience and actor alike.

The ensemble’s acting is certainly commendable. They are eloquent and sensitive in their delivery of humour, which is constantly well-received well by the audience. The motto of the performance, as declared by one of the Jumpers, is: "Fight or flight…or fall", and this rings true throughout.

Overall, it is astonishing that this is 'Three Jumpers'' Fringe debut. Executed with elegance and sophistication, this play dives into harrowing issues and sheds light and laughter on things that desperately need to be talked about.

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