Reviews Scotland Published 3 December 2012


Rothes Halls ⋄ 28th - 29th November 2012

Running free.

Joanna Brown

Towards the end of Simon Sharkey and Phil McCormack’s Jump, 19 teenage boys run to the front of the stage as if to leap out at the audience but instead they let out a joyous yell. The moment reminds me of a line from Whitman’s Song of Myself: “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

Whilst not barbaric the yell in question carries a sense of Whitman’s yawp. It is a yell that is knowing and speaks of the essence of life in all its shades. Jump is a joyous celebration of what it means to live, or rather, what it means to live as a teenage boy.

The result of a nine month project during which over 1000 secondary school boys in Fife and Glasgow undertook workshops in parkour, creative writing and storytelling through music, Jump is described by its creators as ‘more of a gig than a show’. Composed of moments of dance, text and parkour this piece is about coming of age; of learning about life and grasping it with both hands; about making decisions when faced with the unknown and about the realisation that life can be complex. It is obvious that the performers involved have been moved by the project. Their enthusiasm is tangible and it is a joy to watch.

There are some beautiful individual moments: in front of a backdrop of blue sky – full of possibility, of dreams – hang two cut-outs of birds and another, not dissimilar, cut-out of a person jumping. A young man awkwardly recounts a tale of heartbreak.

There is humour too and a potent honesty throughout. While it’s possible to  pick fault with some aspects of the performances I am not inclined to. Certainly there were some performers who were more comfortable and capable than others. But this aspect of the show almost becomes irrelevant when taken along with the more interesting story of the boys themselves, boys who have undergone, what appears to be, a hugely transformative experience.

Sharkey explains that “Parkour is a great way of engaging with young men. Parkour gives them a platform for self-expression but allows them to physicalise it, so there’s less stigma attached. Parkour also works as a metaphor for life and has a philosophy based on self-improvement, training your mind and body to be strong, and supporting the people around you.”

Whilst making themselves vulnerable the performers encourage us to follow suit and to find a new way of looking at the world in order that we might make new discoveries. A boy stands at the mic and tell us ‘This leap is yours to make and make the leap you must.’ The performers are about to jump and the lights go black. It is left to us, the audience, to make that leap.


Joanna Brown is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Jump Show Info

Produced by National Theatre of Scotland

Directed by Simon Sharkey and Phil McCormack




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