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Courtesy of APAC
'Jump' playwright Charly Evon Simpson

BY CLIFF KASDEN

Eerie? Ironic? Disconcerting? The latest offering by the Astoria Performing Arts Center offers a tantalizing array of puzzling questions during their New York premiere of “Jump.” 

The drama’s four main characters provide an interesting approach to some of life’s most high-stress situations. The result is an often warmhearted production that gives the audience a new perspective on the most important events and decisions in our lives.

The troupe has found a foothold at a new venue they call the APAC Pop-Up Theater, located in Astoria at 28-21 Steinway St.  This new home is a departure from previous performance spaces in local Y’s and churches. At the press preview, the audience sits just inches from the performers.

The central set (Riw Rakkulchon, scenic design) and costumes (Rodrigo Munoz) are minimal but impactful. Background music (Jeanne Travis) and props become significant. The actors often weave in and around the theater from light to shadow (Devorah Kengmana, lighting design). The audience must remain engaged or risk overlooking important subtleties.  

Playwright Charly Evon Simpson boldly tackles several intense subjects including self-destruction, alcoholism and family conflicts. Director Arpita Mukherjee capably harnesses these issues in an engaging, non-alienating manner. Kelechi Ezie as Fay is the central hub around which the story’s many spokes continue to spin. The frequent strange sounds, objects that fall from the ceiling and scenic “déjà vu” provide supernatural clues. Clearly, this is not a typical drama.

After Fay meets paradoxical Hopkins (Alex J. Gould) at the wooden bridge the drama’s title becomes clear. What motives dominate their thoughts and actions as they overlook the waters? Are they suicidal? Or lonely? Or just confused?

Fay’s level headed sister, Judy (Natasha Hakata) is also mesmerized by the bridge. Can we depend on her good judgment to guide the other lost souls? 

Dathan B. Williams as “Dad” is as conflicted as the others. He is recently widowed and currently distraught. He is the most outwardly angry, bitter and weak.

Duly noted acknowledgments to Sophie Koester (production stage manager), Meghan McVann, (production manager), Dorothy Sherman (assistant stage manager) and the entire company.

For information on this new production and their next project, “Man of La Mancha,” visit www.apacny.org, call 718-706-5750 or check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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