Shattered Globe’s, “Jump” – An Important Play for Our Troubled Times

Jeff Kurysz (center) is Hopkins, who meets Fay (Jazzma Pryor, left) while contemplating life on a bridge over dark waters, in Shattered Globe's Chicago premiere of Jump. Credit: Liz Lauren
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By Fran Zell

A bridge, a river and a view figure prominently in Charly Evon Simpson’s Jump presented by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont through June 1. The bridge is the only
one of those three elements that the audience literally sees. But we hear about the other two so
much from a forlorn young woman named Fay (Jazzma Pryor) that all three function almost
like characters in the play along with the smoke that Fay continually blows skyward via a vape
habit she seems to want to shake but can’t. At the top of the show she tosses the vape pen off the
bridge several time, but another one keeps coming back from the sky, symbolically suggesting
that in the world of this play lives are out of control.

Jazzma Pryor plays Fay, who catches vapes falling from the sky while seeking solace on a bridge over dark waters, in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump, at Wit Theater. Credit: Liz Lauren

The bridge is an impressive construct, reminiscent of a railroad trestle bridge, sweeping
diagonally across the traverse stage. With smart lighting design by Levi Wilkins it can
alternately look like a temple of doom or a pink and golden child’s play pad, hearkening back to
the good memories Fay has of it from childhood. Just a few steps away from the bridge is the
bedroom Fay once shared with her older sister Judy (Jennifer Glasse), and kitty corner to that is
the living room, where another forlorn figure, known by no other name than Dad (Alfred H.
Wilson) drowns his bottled-up emotions in alcohol.

We learn early on that it was Fay’s mother who made the decision to buy this house that Dad
now promising to sell a year after his wife’s death from cancer. It might have been a happy home
at one time, but the intermittent flickering and sizzling of the front porch light, suggests there’s a
dangerous disconnect somewhere, no doubt on the human level. Fay tells us her mom chose the
house because of its proximity to the bridge, the river and the view and that when her daughters
were young, often took them up on the bridge to gaze into the dark water and scenery beyond.
For Fay it was a good time, but it’s possible that mom had some self-destructive leanings of her
own, given hints that Dad was an abuser.

Jeff Kurysz (left) is Hopkins and Jazzma Pryor) plays Fay, two strangers who meet while seeking solace on a bridge over dark waters, in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump, at Wit Theater Credit: Liz Lauren

But who isn’t suicidal in this play? It’s hard to tell. Simpson purposely misleads and confuses us
into not knowing, or into thinking maybe nobody will jump. But if you believe that, she has a
bridge to sell you. Actually the play is not so much about suicide as about the devastation it
leaves in its aftermath. Time is fractured in this play like a shattered mirror, so it is difficult to
know what happened when and who was alive at the time. More than that, Fay is not a reliable
narrator. There is at least one telling detail she relays to Hopkins (Jeff Kurysz), the troubled
young man she meets on the bridge, that puts the timeline we think we know at the end out of

I have only found one review since the play had its first production five years ago, that reveals
the secret about who actually jumped from the bridge. I’m not going to be the second reviewer to
do that, but I actually think knowing who the jumper is early on isn’t a problem and might make
the play more compelling.

Alfred Wilson (left) is Dad and Jazzma Pryor plays Fay in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump at Wit Theater, Credit: Liz Lauren

Be that as it may, Simpson chose to weave the story into perhaps a new kind of mystery genre for
our alienated times, and thereby neatly sidesteps the need to tell us who these people are on the inside. As a result there’s not a lot of action and it’s possible to lose interest as the play slowly
builds to its reveal. It also puts the theater in the strange position of instructing the audience in
its publicity that this is a play about a young woman grieving the loss of her mother and
childhood home, when it is actually about something else.

The sisters argue about superficial things like choice of shoes, who is always on time (Judy) and
who is usually late (Fay). But we never get to the heart of their conflict, even in the beautiful,
well-paced scene in their old bedroom where they come close to replicating what looks to have
once been a sisterly closeness. They try with mixed success to divide their childhood belongings
into boxes labeled, “Keep,” “Donate,” and “Throw Away.” Judy surprisingly sheds her usual
buttoned up manner and pulls Fay into a-long forgotten game of back- flopping on their beds.
They both enjoy the game for awhile, but once unleashed, Judy carries it to an almost hysterical
pitch that worries Fay and brings their long-standing tension back into the room. But none of this
explains why Fay can go weeks and weeks without listening to voicemails from her sister.

Jazzma Pryor (left) plays Fay and Alfred Wilson is Dad in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump at Wit Theater. Credit: Liz Lauren

Ironically, the character who helps bring the most refreshing and ingenuous moments to the play
is Hopkins, the only one of the four characters who admits to being suicidal. When he meets Fay
on the bridge, it gradually becomes clear that his purpose for coming there was to jump. But
running into another human, in this case Fay, thwarts that plan for the day and on the succeeding
days that they continue to meet. He is a smoker too, cigarettes not vape. Still, smoking is enough
of a compulsive hobby for both to draw them together. Kurysz is amazing in the role, balancing
just the right mix of lost-to-the-world despair with a generosity of spirit that enables him to reach
out beyond himself to another person.
Despite its flaws, Jump, skillfully directed by AmBer Montgomery, is an important play for our
time. Good theatre is supposed to hold up a mirror in which we see ourselves as we are, in this
case a society with a lot of mental illness on both the individual and political level, ridden with a
mass denial that exacerbates the craziness and our disconnectedness from each other. There are
fewer and fewer subjects anyone can talk about without getting into hugely polarized
arguments—or even violence—whether it’s between family, friends, or in the larger public arena
of a protest against war and genocide.

At the end of Jump, Judy stands on the bridge, tossing a white lily in the water, while another
one falls into her hand from the sky. Of course it’s the direct antithesis to how the play began,
intended to tell us that hope and healing are within reach. But it doesn’t bring the dead back, and
in that way is remindful of Bob Dylan’s wise question, first expressed so many decades ago in
the context of another war-ravished time: “How many deaths will it take before we know that too
many people have died?”

Jeff Kurysz plays Hopkins, a stranger looking for solace on a bridge over dark waters, in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump mat Wit Theater. Credit: Liz Lauren

Jump runs Thursdays through Sundays until June 1, presented by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont, Chicago.

It features Jazzma Pryor, Jennifer Glasse, Jeff Kurysz, and Alfred H. Wilson with original music and sound design by Chris Kriz; lighting design by Levi Wilkins; and co-scenic design by Regina Garcia and Lindsay Mummert.

Judy (Jennifer Glasse, left) and her sister Fay (Jazzma Pryor) find a moment of joy while packing up their childhood bedroom following the death of their mother in Shattered Globe Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Jump.
Credit: Liz Lauren

General admission is $45 with discounts for seniors, students and those under 30, IDs required
the door. Tickets are available at or by calling the box office, 773-975-8150.


  • Fran Zell

    Fran Zell is a freelance journalist, based in Chicago. She is a former staff writer for the Chicago Tribune. She also writes plays, short stories, and essays.

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About Fran Zell 12 Articles
Fran Zell is a freelance journalist, based in Chicago. She is a former staff writer for the Chicago Tribune. She also writes plays, short stories, and essays.

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