Theatre Review - 'Jumpy'

Posted on: 01 November 2011 by Alexander Hay

The strained relationship between parents and their teenage offspring may be a familiar subject but it gets a fresh and funny makeover in April de Angelis’s acutely observed new play Jumpy (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court), directed by Nina Raine

In Mummy's black books, care of JumpyHilary leads a hollow existence. A mother, a wife, and fifty, she once protested at Greenham Common. Now her protests tend to focus on persuading her promiscuous teenage daughter Tilly to go out fully clothed, while her inert husband Mark takes a back seat as far as parenting is concerned. But her anxieties do not stop here – she also wonders how to revive a marriage in which sex has been substituted by reading Dickens aloud in bed.

Tilly’s relationship with her morose-looking boyfriend Josh brings Hilary into contact with his parents whose approach is widely different to her own: steely Bea and flirtatious actor Roland.

In fact Hilary’s only real pleasure in life comes from sipping white wine and exchanging pungent opinions with her actress best friend Frances who in the name of “sexual empowerment” has developed a barnstorming burlesque act in a desperate attempt to kick-start her career.

Misunderstandings proliferate but will the situation really change?

Nina Raine’s perceptive production accentuate the comic possibilities in the writing – the play is full of firecracker one-liners-whilst maintaining the sense of pathos that lies at the heart of the work and certainly many theatregoers will recognise and share the issues into which the play delves.

But it is the excellent performances that really give this piece a true kiss of life, most notably Tamsin Greig as the middle-class mother Hilary, exhausted by parenthood and everyday anxieties and in the throes of a midlife crisis.

She receives strong support from Bel Powley as her oversexed and underage daughter Tilly, who is full of worldly contempt, Ewan Stewart as her ineffective husband Mark, Doon Mackichan as her best friend Frances, who declares at one point, “Being a woman and getting old is a disaster”, as well as Richard Lintern and Sarah Woodward as Roland and Beu respectively.

In all a rewarding evening in the theatre.

Plays until November 19.

Box office: 0207 565 5000

Press: 0207 565 5063

By Laurence Green

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Alexander Hay

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