C’Est la Vie begins its new season of podcasts
by Christian Baines
Sam is a young, newly single man on the brink of suicide. Jerry is a much older, long-married Ukrainian ex-pat who first urges him not to jump, but is soon tempted to follow. From their opposite ends of the spectrum, both are locked in a struggle to survive. Men teetering on the edge… get it? And that tagline is pretty indicative of the play itself. Long on familiar, ham-fisted clichés and short on emotional gravitas – and mercifully, duration.
C’Est La Vie Theatre has set itself an interesting challenge in podcasting plays without the aid of visuals. Such a task demands scripts that are absolutely clear in their setting and intent, with nary a line wasted. Jump is not one such script. In fact, it takes some time for it to become clear in this format exactly what Sam intends to do. By the time this emerges, Jerry is threatening to join him, and in truth, it’s hard to take either of their threats seriously. The commitment and weight just isn’t there in either actor’s voice.
Perhaps we just aren’t given enough time to connect with either of these characters. Sam sounds more like a whiny teenager than someone seriously considering self-harm, while Jerry’s explanation for not telling his wife he has cancer feels like a cheap contrivance wedged in because writer Natalie Gershtien needed such a device to get him standing alongside Sam. The dialogue isn’t witty enough to play the piece as comedy either.
One gets the impression that Gershtien is going for some insight into two people from opposite worlds both confronting the inevitable disappointments and shortcomings of their lives. But the characters aren’t interesting and the dialogue ranges from merely serviceable to truly asinine.
By the time we roll around to Sam imploring Jerry that he shouldn’t jump because he’d never again taste his wife’s delicious sandwiches, we’re ready to get behind both men and push.