Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Jump It” at FringeNYC 2016 at 64E4 Mainstage

Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Jump It” at FringeNYC 2016 at 64E4 Mainstage (Closed Saturday August 20, 2016)
Written by Phoebe Farber
Directed by Gama Valle
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

Stu Napolitano (played with a charmed angst by Philip Cruise) owns his own towing business and still lives at home with his abusive father and collusive mother. Stu drops everything and dashes home to administer insulin to his diabetic father whenever his incompetent mother calls. Stu’s dreary – and troubled – life gets interrupted by the return of his brother Ray from LA (played with a suspicious exuberance by Eli Ganias) and Ray’s high school squeeze Wendy (played with a doleful indignity by Bethany Geraghty) who, at the play’s start, needs a jump start for her car battery deadened by her husband’s predisposition to leave the car radio on. Wendy and Ray, by the way, are unhappily married and generally unhappy people and turn to Stu for surcease from their near-dead batteries.

When these characters from the past collide years later in the present, their lives should change as a result of the collision. Also it is an accident that is not expected, a surprise and creates a situation that is unpredictable. That is the premise of “Jump It” written by Pheobe Farber which defies any of the aforementioned conclusions. It is a play where characters do not change but merely adapt. The music does not change. There are no surprises and everything is predictable. It is stuck in time and does not budge even though the present tries to coax it from the shortcomings of the past. It is a flat tire with no dramatic arc.

The cast does an admirable job in trying to overcome the obstacles of the script, creating believable flawed characters but fall short when trying to give them an emotional transfusion, though no fault of their own. The direction by Gama Valle is somewhat stagnant and fractured by very short scenes severed by the same repetitious music. None of this overcomes – or jump starts – Ms. Farber’s disconnected and convoluted story line.