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|A CurtainUp London Review
Jumpy transfers from the Royal Court to the Duke of York’s in London’s West End with known television star Tamsin Greig as the main box office draw. This play, about a fifty year old mother in crisis as she sees her fifteen year old daughter become sexually active, comments on the problems for both generations. The children become adult earlier and earlier and the mother finds herself in an economically and maritally precarious situation. Bel Powley once more terrifies the men who are baffled by extreme behaviour of the feisty and assertive teenager. Tamsin Greig is the mother who doesn’t know what to do.
The only cast change is that Amanda Root takes over from Sarah Woodward as Josh’s mother Bea, who leaps to the defence of her son. None of de Angelis’ characters are really likeable, some are ridiculous or embarrassing like Doon Mackichan victim of her own fading sexuality who develops a terrible burlesque routine, or players like Joshua’s actor father Roland but many of the playwright’s lines are funny, wry and candid observations on modern family predicaments.
Jumpy isn’t an important play but as social comedy it does tap into the insecurity of those born in the early 1960s and has outstanding performances from Tamsin Greig and Bel Powley and mother and daughter protagonists. There is a lovely twist in the final act as Tilly takes a once loved soft toy off to university and makes her mother feel sentimental for the child that was, only for this plotline to contort and contort again.
Current Production Notes
>Cast and creatives as below except for Amanda Root replacing Sarah Woodward
Box Office: 0844 871 7615
Booking at the Duke of York’s to 3rd November 2012
Originally reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 20th April 2010 performance at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)
Re-reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 28th August 2012 performance at the Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4BG (Tube: Leicester Square, Charing Cross)
Hilary:You were never supposed to have a Barbie.
Tilly: Oh my days, not this again.
Hilary: I always swore you never would and then you had a party when you were six. And got given two.
Tilly: The happiest day of my childhood.
Hilary: Barbie is an Aryan. Put together by eleven thousand Chinese women in Guangdong Province. She’s a recipe for self-hatred.
April de Angelis’ new comedy Jumpy is about the mid-life crisis for 50 year old Hilary (Tamsin Greig) as she surveys her marriage, her job and her fifteen year old daughter Tilly’s (Bel Powley) burgeoning sexuality. Married to businessman Mark (Ewan Stewart) who has had the vision to get into selling window blinds, Hilary is worried about losing her job in the Educational Reading Support Unit. Tilly brings home her friend Lyndsey (Seline Hizli) who is the same age as Tilly but heavily pregnant.
Tamsin Greig as Hilary and Bel Powley as Tilly (Photo: Robert Workman)
As Lyndsey reveals the full and dramatic information about the father of her baby, Hilary is visibly shocked but the rest of us think it’s hysterically funny! But then this isn’t happening to our 15 year old daughter’s best friend.
Hilary’s friend is Frances (Doon Mackichan) a woman fighting off the advance of middle age by going to the gym, wearing fake tan and trying to pick up men in bars. The next crisis looms when Tilly is found in bed with Josh (James Musgrave), son of the disapproving Bea (Sarah Woodward) and actor Roland (Richard Lintern). Bea and Roland’s marriage is on the rocks and Roland makes a play for Hilary.
Bel Powley, whom I admired in Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk, almost steals the show as the feisty, articulate yet vulnerable Tilly. Of course she is outrageous in what she wears, very high heels, a provocatively short skirt, and how she speaks to her mother, full of caustic melodrama turning the knife on age with point precision accuracy. Tamsin Greig is sympathetic, mostly quietly bemused, flegmatic flotsam swept along on the tide of middle age, married to equally bemused Mark (Ewan Stewart). The best scenes in the play are between mother and daughter as the daughter makes her break for freedom and adulthood.
Doon Mackichan as Frances rehearses her burlesque routine, shown as a work in progress for the benefit of Roland, and is flesh cringingly funny as, dressed like a pony, she dances with a whip, a large balloon and crudely erotic gesture. This will be what everyone remembers about this play. Much guffawing in the audience!
Nina Raine, as director but known also as a playwright, gets good performances from her cast. I particularly liked the tensions of the family conferences between Tilly’s parents and Josh’s, with the spiky and unpleasant Bea, the excellent Sarah Woodward defending her son, and Richard Lintern as Roland with his gung ho attitude to women wishing he was 16 again with all that sexual opportunity on offer. I liked too small touches like the text message held at arm’s length as Hilary needs reading glasses to see up close. Lizzie Clachan’s peaceful sets, in contrast with the family maelstrom, are beautiful, London minimalist living space, colour washed in pale grey which turns into a Norfolk beach scene, a wooden platform stretching over the sea, with a full backdrop of projected water enhanced by lighting bouncing off the waves from Peter Mumford.
Tamsin Greig has a large following for her television comedy roles in series like Black Books and The GreenWing and her star rating alone will propel this light social comedy into the West End. On press night the audience was thick with producers and impresarios looking for their next hit.
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Written by April de Angelis
Directed by Nina Raine
Starring: Tamsin Greig, Bel Powley, Doon Mackichan, Richard Lintern
With: Ewan Stewart, Seline Hizli, Sarah Woodward, James Musgrave, Michael Marcus
Designed by Lizzie Clachan
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Sound: Paul Arditti
Running time: Two hours 25 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 020 7565 5000
Booking to 17th November 2011
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 19th October 2011 performance at The Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS (Tube: Sloane Square)
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