Shattered Globe Theatre Reaches Euphoric Heights to Deal With Grief in Charly Evon Simpson’s Jump

Shattered Globe Theatre is snow staging the simultaneously heartbreaking and life-affirming Jump, by Charly Evon Simpson. The play saw its world premiere with PlayMakers Repertory Company in 2019 and made its New York debut at the Astoria Performing Arts Center in 2020. Its Midwest premiere at Theater Wit, directed by AmBer Montgomery (SGT associate artistic director), builds upon the show’s legacy as a vital piece reflecting on grief, family bonds, and how we save ourselves and each other. This production handles its serious subject matter responsibly, providing helpful infographics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on the prevalence of mental illnesses among adults across the U.S. as well as options for seeking support.

Jazzma Pryor (front) plays Fay and Jeff Kurysz (back) plays Hopkins. Photo by Liz Lauren.

The scenic design by Regina Garcia and Lindsay Mummert centers the story’s key conversation piece: a bridge sisters Fay and Judy grew up visiting near their childhood home. The structure looms centerstage, ignored and acknowledged at different moments in the story, a runway for many of the play’s most poignant and joyful moments as characters discuss their pasts, presents, and the potential for a shared future. Fay hesitates to approach her childhood home, represented in one corner of the stage by a classic if neglected-looking stoop strewn with empty planters and dying greenery. In the other corner, the sisters’ childhood bedroom is a beacon of millennial girlhood, decorated with posters of NYSNC, the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera, and Tina Turner. As they pack up the room after hearing their father’s plans to sell the house, Judy reminds Fay of the simpler joys they shared growing up, asking, “Remember how we used to flop on the bed?”

Fay (Jazzma Pryor, back) and her sister, Judy (Jennifer Glasse). Photo by Liz Lauren.

As Fay, Jazzma Pryor is an immediately powerful presence on stage, as she plays sleight of hand with her vape on the bridge, toying with chucking it into oblivion and then revealing it in the other hand. She’s met by Judy coming in from the city, played with energy and charm by Jennifer Glasse. The sisters grapple with the death of their mother a year earlier as they prepare to face their father (played by Alfred Wilson), who has struggled with alcohol amid his grief. An element of magical realism is introduced when Fay begins having surreal moments of deja vu, hearing ghostly footsteps in the house, and visiting the play’s central bridge where she meets a mysterious and playful stranger, Hopkins. Played by Jeff Kurysz, Hopkins introduces levity amidst the play’s otherwise serious subject matter. He prompts Fay to join him in a rousing performance of The Proclaimers’ hit song "500 Miles," complete with silly Irish brogues. They laugh together and bicker and learn to worry about each other as they meet again and again, by some stroke of fate, accidentally, and on purpose.

Jeff Kurysz (left) is Hopkins and Jazzma Pryor (right) plays Fay. Photo by Liz Lauren.

This production certainly meets its program’s goal of “bridging heartbreak and hope.” As the NAMI statistics flyer states, this play reminds audience members that they are not alone in their struggles. As Fay and Hopkins bond and clash over their respective mental health journeys, they unpack the weight of others’ expectations for them and how to accept help when they need it. 

Though audience members should be prepared for discussions of suicidal ideation, death, and substance abuse, there is also much joy amidst Jump’s tragedies and questions of faith. It also asks questions audience members can take home and mull over with the people they love: How do we form better patterns within our family dynamics? How do we escape the pressure to be perfect? Which memories do we choose to put in which boxes, keep, trash, or donate? Who is whose guardian angel? And, perhaps most important of all: How are you, really?

Jump runs through June 1 at Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont Ave., with mask-mandatory performances on May 5 and May 25. For tickets, visit https://sgtheatre.org or call the box office, 773-975-8150.

For more information on this and other plays, see theatreinchicago.com.

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Row Light

Row Light (she/they) is a Chicago-based culture writer and editor. You can find their work at row-light.com.