Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Jumpers

by Tom Stoppard

Jumpers is the kind of gem that few playwrights other than Stoppard could have crafted: a freewheeling farce with a soulful, searing conscience.” —Elysa Gardner, USA Today

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 96
  • Publication Date April 01, 1979
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5100-1
  • Dimensions 5.38" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $15.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9538-8
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

Murder, marriage and metaphysics—the three elements that link the bizarre series of events in Tom Stoppard’s high-spirited comedy, Jumpers. The protagonists include George Moore, an aging professor of moral philosophy whose quest to compose a lecture on “Man—Good, Bad or Indifferent” is put on hold while he ponders the existence of his sock; his youthful wife Dotty, a former musical star on a downward spiral whose charm may explain the corpse in the next room; George’s specially trained hare, Thumper; and a chorus of poorly-trained gymnasts whose exploits set the stage for this topsy-turvy world.

Praise

“[An] exuberantly surreal comedy. . . . Like a delicious rerun of Monty Python’s Flying Circus that is continually being interrupted by a lecture-demonstration on moral philosophy. . . . A rare treat on Broadway: a comedy that inspires, indeed demands, intellectual engagement.” —Charles Isherwood, Variety

“Don’t worry if you’re not up on your Keats or Milton, or for that matter your Plato or Wittgenstein. For all the intellectual namedropping, Jumpers . . . is ultimately less of a showoff demonstration of what Mr. Stoppard knows than a humble contemplation of what he and all humankind can never know.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Jumpers is the kind of gem that few playwrights other than Stoppard could have crafted: a freewheeling farce with a soulful, searing conscience.” —Elysa Gardner, USA Today

“[Jumpers] is brainy, but full of heart. For all Stoppard’s showing off, the effect is giddy with the joy of emotional and intellectual gymnastics. . . . This is a daredevil extravaganza with amateur acrobats in the ballroom and a huge, insistent love for humanity in its addled soul. Part murder mystery, part academic satire, part cosmic meditation on the nature of goodness, this is also an old-time English sex farce with a silly streak as deep as its embrace is wide.” —Linda Winer, Newsday

Jumpers is simply dazzling. It takes your breath away with its sheer exuberance of literacy, its cascade of words and conspicuous display of intellect. It is also extraordinarily funny. Jumpers is one of the wittiest and most stimulating plays of the last decade or so.” —Clive Barnes, The New York Times

“Stoppard’s high hurdle of a comedy [is] filled with dense philosophical discussion, impossibly clever quips, deliberately bad musical numbers and one dead gymnast.” —Michael Kuchwara, The Miami Herald

“The wordplay and absurd twists of logic are endless. There is something dazzling about the way the play veers between academic and farcical.” —The New York Daily News

“Stoppard makes mock of philosophers with the same vigor Moliere showed in poking fun at doctors 350 years ago: a riot of paradox about the reality of goodness and the dangers of our technological world.” —The New York Post

Jumpers remains a major. . . piece of work by a major British playwright.” —Jacques Le Sourd, The Journal News

“It’s Stoppard in Wonderland—a Wonderland in which his quicksilver brain is free to juggle with paradoxes and to conjure with logic in the manner of Lewis Carroll. . . . An intellectual plum pudding.” —Peter Lewis, The Daily Mail

“The new Radical Liberal Party has made the ex-Minister of Agriculture Archbishop of Cantebury, British astronauts are scrapping with each other on the moon and sprightly academics steal about London by night indulging in murderous gymnastics: this is the kind of manic, futuristic, topsy-turvy world in which Stoppard’s dazzling play is set. And if I add that the influences apparently include Wittgenstein, Magritte, the Goons, Robert Dhery, Joe Orton and The Avengers, you will have some idea of the heady brew Stoppard has here concocted.” —Michael Billington, The Guardian

Excerpt

Act One

ARCHIE (unseen): And now, ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of a momentous victory at the polls, may I present your hostess and mine, making a most welcome reappearance, the much-missed, much-loved star of the musical stage, the incomparable, magnetic Dorothy Moore! (DOTTY enters. Much applause.)

DOTTY: Thank you, thank you for coming. (Music introduction for “Shine on Harvest Moon.” She dries.) And now, making a most welcome reappearance, the incomparable, unreliable, neurotic Dorothy Moore. (Applause. Cheers. Introduction repeated.) How does it begin? (GUESTS, offstage, sing “Shine on, shine on harvest moon.”) (Singing, but going wrong immediately.)

I want to spoon to my honey I’ll croon love’s June or July. (Breaks off.) No I can’t. I’m sorry (and goes). (Drum roll.)

Cries of disappointment change to cries of delight.

Like a pendulum between darkness and darkness, the SECRETARY swings into the spotlight, and out. She is on a swing, making an arc from wing to wing, in sight for a second, out of sight for a second, in sight for a second, out of sight for a second . . . back and forth.

The swing itself hangs from a chandelier.

Cheers.

Each time she reappears she has taken off some clothing.

Grateful cheers.

CROUCH enters from side, the porter pressed into service to serve drinks at the party. He wears a short white coat and carries a round tray balanced on one hand, drinks on tray.

He is going to stray into the line of vision. Voices warn him away, good-humouredly.

CROUCH does not know what is going on: every time he turns downstage, the SECRETARY is in view behind him, and every time he looks upstage the gap is empty.

“Mind your back!”

“Out the way!”

“Let the dog see the rabbit!”

CROUCH is bewildered.

The SECRETARY is nearing nakedness, obscured. The unseen watchers are nearing hysterical frustration.

At the climax of their cries, CROUCH backs into the path of the swing and is knocked arse over tip by a naked lady, BLACKOUT and crash of broken glass. Immediately:

VOICE (ARCHIE’s voice): “And now!—ladies and gentlemen!—the INCREDIBLE—RADICAL!—LIBERAL!!—JUMPERS!!” (White spot. Musical introduction. EIGHT JUMPERS enter jumping, tumbling, somersaulting, four from each side of the stage: a not especially talented troupe of gymnasts possibly using a trampoline. Discreet musical accompaniment. Their separate entrances converge to form a tableau of modest pretension.)