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Jump For Jordan is a structurally ambitious play that moves between past and present, between Jordan and Australia, and between reality and the protagonist’s imagination. Sophie, a young archaeology student, is drifting through life with no money and no great interest in the subjects she studies when her mother contacts her after a three-year estrangement. To please her mother, and to keep up family appearances for her visiting Aunt Azza, Sophie must pretend that she has a successful career and that she isn’t in a same sex relationship. Appearances are soon shattered, not just for the family, but for the audience too. Portrayed with humour and a light touch, the ultimately uplifting direction that these events take is one of the strengths of the play.
The depiction of Sophie’s inner life is another high point. Sophie’s dead Palestinian father, Sahir, persists as a vital presence in her imagination and serves as a counterpoint to her Jordanian mother, who feels stranded in what is for her still a foreign country. The play conveys the richness of identities that immigrants leave behind, and also the misconceptions and assumptions that can obscure them. Abela shows that while the past can be full of unresolved traumas, it is also a place of nourishing traditions and important connections — a place from which new identities can grow.