john klicker

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we're driving eco-cars, abandoning plastic bags, and exploring the merits of "fresh, local, and organic." And we're miles ahead of the rest of the country. But in Colombia, there's a little town called Gaviotas that's leaps and bounds ahead of even Portland's most eco-minded. Do Jump!'s Entusiasmo! is the story of that community—told in leaps and bounds.

In 1971, a small group of dedicated citizens founded Gaviotas in Colombia's eastern plains—a wind- and rain-ravaged area that was considered uninhabitable, until innovation, hope, and boundless enthusiasm came together and allowed Gaviotas to thrive. You might not have heard of it, but the town still prospers today, a model of sustainable, peaceful, and thoughtful living.

Do Jump! founder and Artistic Director Robin Lane has created a show to tell this community's story, based on Alan Weisman's book Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World. In typical Do Jump! fashion, the story is interspersed with striking visuals, incredible gymnastic feats, and original music. Unfortunately, even as the players leap and tumble, Entusiasmo! never really manages to get off the ground. The show seems to labor under the weight of its own importance, as Lane repeatedly pounds her audience with a message-hammer, at the expense of a fluid and entertaining show.

The acrobatic bits are fantastic—there are phenomenal sequences involving ladders, trapezes, hoops, and hammocks, and the performers gracefully make all of it look effortless. But between these sequences, the show lags: Lane spends too much energy telling the story when her focus should have been on showing it. Scenes and songs extend longer than necessary, with long sequences that involve little more than a souped-up slide show. Extensive dialogue is labored and unnatural, bringing the story to repeated screeching halts instead of propelling it forward. Do Jump! is at its best when it's wrapping its audiences in pure, unadulterated spectacle—by stepping away from this model in order to "Tell a Story with a Message," Lane has undercut her troupe's storytelling power. What could have been a viscerally engaging story is instead just somewhat diverting and, even, a little boring.