Jumping the Shark, 5 Stars

Jumping the Shark
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
7th March to 12th March 2023

“Jumping the Shark is the moment when an established and long-running  TV series changes,  from a relatively small change, like the introduction of a new gimmick, to a radical one, like a genre shift. The show feels the need to update in order to hold the fanbase. But it usually has the opposite effect – viewers realise that the show has finally run out of ideas. It’s reached its peak; it’ll never be as good again; it has nowhere to go but down. In other words, it’s Ruined FOREVER.

The expression was born after a defining episode of ‘Happy Days; in which Fonzie, dressed in his trademark leather jacket, jumped a real shark on water skis.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 5 Stars

What an amazing stage play! It’s a play within a play – the characters arrive to attend a residential course to learn the art of comedy script-writing from a successful sit-com writer. During the 1st half we learn a lot about construction of a comedy sit-com. The participants are tasked to bring a short comedy to life and during the 2nd half we see the success and failure from their attempts. It’s a genius scenario that’s really entertaining.

And of course, it’s really, really funny!
Written by David Cantor and Michael Kingsbury it’s original and very refreshing.

Until it isn’t. The 2nd half brings personal issues into the attempted scripts and it slowly morphs into something very poignant, clever and emotional.

The actors are so well cast and very individual. They all have their own back-stories. And they’re all incredible actors! Sarah Moyles has got to be one of the finest actors I’ve ever had the pleasure. Watching her work was a joy, and the rest of the cast are just brilliant!

The set design works very well and the lighting is thankfully unobtrusive. The sound design is very tongue in cheek, sparse, and used in a manner of “the play that goes wrong”.

Michael Kingsbury‘s direction is very tongue in cheek – allowing the workshop leader to critique the occasional but deliberate ham-acting in a very self-effacing manner. This also shows a true skill and self-awareness that’s refreshingly rare.

Jumping the Shark is a rare comedy treat that we all deserve!

Photo credit: Robert Armstrong

The cast features several well-known TV favourites:
David Schaal is an American-born British actor, director, screenwriter, and comedian, best known as Taffy in the UK version of TV sitcom ‘The Office’, and Terry Cartwright in ‘The Inbetweeners’ TV series and spin-off films.
Harry Visinoni was Seb Franklin in ITV’s ‘Coronation Street’, a character who made his exit in May 2021 in a hard-hitting hate-crime storyline inspired by a real-life case. It went on to receive nominations for Best Storyline and Best Single Episode at the British Soap Awards.Sarah Moyle is best known for playing receptionist Valerie Pitman in BBC’s ‘Doctors’, a role that won her Best Comedy Performance in 2019 at the British Soap Awards. Jasmine Armfield played Rebecca Fowler in ‘EastEnders’ from 2014-2020. Since leaving the soap, she has appeared in BBC’s ‘Doctors’, ‘Casualty’, and the feature film, ‘The Loneliest Boy In The World’. Jumping The Shark marks her stage debut.Robin Sebastian has played comedy legend Kenneth Williams multiple times on TV and on stage, including ‘Babs: The True Story of a British Icon‘ (BBC1), ‘Lost Sitcoms – Hancock’s Half Hour’ (BBC Four),  ‘Horne A’Plenty’, ‘Round the Horne… Revisited’ (West End and UK tour), ‘Round the Horne – Unseen and Uncut’ (UK tour) and ‘Stop Messing About’ (West End and UK tour). His other credits include Cardinal Richelieu in ‘The Three Musketeers’ at Bristol Old Vic, Robin Craigie in a number one tour of Noël Coward’s ‘Volcano’ and Carmen Ghia in the national tour of ‘The Producers’.Jack Trueman was Nick in ‘Fever Pitch’ at The Hope Theatre, Islington, and made his screen debut as Tom in ‘Shark Bait’.Michael Kingsbury’s directing work includes the West End and touring hit ‘Round The Horne…Revisited’, ‘Ying Tong’ at the Ambassadors and ‘In Lambeth’ at Southwark Playhouse.
Written by David Cantor and Michael KingsburyDirected by Michael KingsburyLighting and Sound: Chuma EmemboluSet: Daniel CrillyCasting: Peter Frosdick  Costumes: Natalie ColeProduction Manager: Natalie ColeProduced by Peter Frosdick and Classical Events.
Age guidance 12+
Upstairs at the GatehouseHighgate VillageLondon N6 4BDBOX OFFICE: 020 8340 3488Tuesday 7 March – Sunday 12 MarchTuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm Matinees Saturday & Sunday at 4pmHow to get thereBY TUBE #1: HIGHGATE STATION(Northern Line – High Barnet Branch – plus 15 minute walk – Zone 3).Exit 3. Cross Archway Road then walk up and to the end of Southwood Lane. Look to the right and you will see The Gatehouse Pub, a large mock-Tudor building on a roundabout.Entrance to the theatre is through the pub.BY TUBE #2: ARCHWAY STATION(Northern Line – High Barnet branch – plus a steep hill walk for 20 minutesOR a 5 minute bus ride – Zone 2&3).Turn left out of the main exit and left onto Highgate Hill. Then a five-minute walk up to the Whittington Hospital bus stop and take either 143, 210, or 271 up the hill to Highgate Village.BY BUS:143 (Archway – East Finchley – Brent Cross)210 (Finsbury Park – Golders Green – Brent Cross) 214 (Highgate – Kentish Town – Camden – Angel – Old Street – Liverpool Street) 263 (Highbury & Islington – Highgate – Barnet Hospital)BY CAR:Free parking after Noon in residents parking bays and pay and display bays. Parking permitted on single yellow lines after 6.30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends (please check the roadside signs).