Coined as 'the first non-speaking martial arts comedy', this Korean acrobatics-meets-slapstick spectacle is winning fans across the world. From sell-out performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to further afield across Europe, Asia and New York's Broadway, production company Yegam Inc is continuing to wow audiences with Jump's impressive array of gymnastics, tae kwon do, sparring and karate.
The age guidelines are marked as five years and up, and it is indeed these youngsters that giggle their way throughout the performance. But what is interesting is the universal appeal to the older generations. While the flips, chops and bendy splits undoubtedly create monumental ticket sales, the comedic narrative — that's a bit light on story and heavy in cultural undertones — seems to somehow also interest the masses.
Going for a more 'panto-style' presentation, a traditional Korean household is introduced, including an authoritative grandfather, a drunken uncle and an overly protective mother who is not happy about her daughter's suitor (arranged by the grandfather, of course). Each family member is skilled in martial arts and, just for fun, engages in thrilling fighting matches against each other. The real conflict however is not introduced until the final scene when two clumsy thieves attempt to break in, naturally finding themselves faced with unexpected opposition...
Whether it be the grandfather's slow, squeaky shuffles across stage, the slow-motion combat sequences or the over-the-top stunts involving an assortment of weapons being extracted from bodies, very little dialogue is used to garner uproarious cheers and fits of laughter. As the finale approaches, so does the awe-inspiring tumbling that includes running to the tops of the walls and spiralling downwards while twisting and turning (to see it is to believe it).For many, this aspect of the show is what fans pay to see, and perhaps the comedy a bit less. Either way, tickets sell like hot cakes, so it's worth checking out for yourself.
A word of warning for those sitting near the stage: audience participation regularly occurs, and it can get physical. For those wanting more from artistic director Jun-Sang Lee and the Yegam Inc team (and with the cash for a ticket), head to Seoul where Jump is staged in its very own dedicated theatre.
Jump returns to The Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street WC2, after a five year absence, until 15 November. Tickets range between £7.50-£38. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes without an interval. Children must be 5 years and over. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.