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Monday, August 17, 2009

Review- Eli and Cheryl Jump (FringeNYC 2009)

The Fab Marquee review by Diánna Martin.

Ever see a show that you just can't get out of your head? Its emotional and psychological residue remains with you for hours, if not days, after you left the show? That is the experience I had when I went to see Eli and Cheryl Jump presented by Ignited States and directed by Nicole A. Watson. I literally could not get the characters out of my mind throughout the night, and had to email friends and post things on Facebook to tell them to go out and see it. I had a passion to go see it again.

Charles Linshaw and Cassandra Vincent | photo credit: Martha Goode

Eli (Charles Linshaw) grows up in the Southern country, son to a somewhat overbearing, yet loving mother (Cassandra Vincent, in only one of her four roles of the evening), who is such because the father and husband has passed away. Through her stories to her son (as we see in flashbacks), she instills in him a feeling that there is something besides just luck protecting him from death's door over and over again. From car accidents to walking on air over huge holes that could make him fall to his death, he begins to believe that there is some magical help from his deceased father helping him remain alive - but at a price; for every time he is saved, it seems that someone he loves dies in his place. This causes him to move into exile in NYC, keeping to himself, lest he kill innocent people accidentally.

Soon he meets Cheryl, and when she breaks his barriers and he asks her on a date, the fateful day of their meeting takes the play to a whole new level that I did not see coming. I was thrilled at the surprise, but later found it even deeper. This is an incredibly haunting piece that captures the heart before you know it's happened.

Cassandra Vincent and Charles Linshaw | photo credit: Martha Goode

Cassandra Vincent blew my mind. I cannot express how delighted I was that simply a shawl, or tying her shirt around her waist, or a pair of glasses made all the difference in creating four separate characters. Her connection with Charles Linshaw at the beginning took a little while to get cooking-but that is a comment for both actors. These are two very fine actors, with a tremendous craft; however they were not listening to each other at first, and that is my main critique of the piece. I also had difficulty relating and believing Linshaw's monologues for the first part of the play. The moments when they come back to the present and their set of tragic, possible magical circumstances I was right on board; but other times when he was telling the stories of his past he wasn't connected enough-and the monologues at times were told without properly expressing the lyrical quality of Daniel McCoy's script. However, towards the last half of the play he did find the rhythm, and the emotional connection, and it was enchanting.

Kudos should also be given to Nicole A. Watson's staging, and to Martha Goode's sound design (brilliant...I was jumping in my chair-just as I was suppose to); David Begali's lights were fantastic.

Eli and Cheryl Jump is a must see. Despite some bumps, it was redeemed with the beauty of the story, some great choices in the work, and the reveal at the end-again...will blow your mind. I was affected by this production long after I left the theater. And that is the mark of a good show.

The New York International Fringe Festival
Ignited States in association with Crosstown Playwrights present
Eli and Cheryl Jump
by Daniel McCoy
directed by Nicole A. Watson
The Players Loft

Four performances left: Thursday August 20th at 7:15pm, Monday August 24th at 3:15pm, Friday August 28th at 11pm and Saturday August 29th at 12:45pm.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The Players Loft | 115 MacDougal St, 3rd Floor | Manhattan.


Claudia said...

I completely agree! The storyline was different from most other shows you see, and the characters were very well suited for their parts. The Fringe shows are always a lot of fun, but some just aren't as good. This one certainly deserves the credit!

Jeremy said...

Loved this show! I saw it opening night, it was sold out. I thought the actors would be nervous, I thought I wouldn't be able to say "yes" to the magical realism for the whole time, and I was completely involved. Cassandra Vincent is a gem.