Jumpy Review

In her youth Hilary was a left leaning feminist who protested at Greenham Common.

Over the years, Hilary’s problems switch from nuclear weapons to nuclear family as she struggles to cope with a promiscuous teenage daughter, a marriage of habit rather than passion and the looming loss of her job.

At fifty, with the ground on which Hilary built her world upon starting to splinter, it’s time for a mid-life crisis.

Cue April De Angelis’ witty, smart and side holdingly funny, Jumpy.

Hilary, played by Tamsin Greig, worries about her sexually empowered daughter Tilly and is desperate for her to define herself by something other than what boys think.

At the same time, the decline of Hilary’s own sex appeal is a less than thrilling thought.

There’s little comfort to be found in her best friend Frances either, who now believes their protesting youth was mere piety.

That, and performing burlesque routines is a good way of controlling the objectification of women.

Jumpy reflects upon the difficulties and challenges of modern womanhood, parenting, cross generation communication and the bravery it takes to accept yourself and your real desires.

Two ideas of women dominate De Angelis’ hilarious new play; as mothers and as sex objects. While Tilly no longer depends on her mother and starts to assert her own sexuality, both Hilary and Frances start to feel their own sense of femininity deteriorate with age.

And as the way these women define themselves begins to crumble, so the mercury of their own personal problems rises.

The dilemmas regarding attitudes to sex take up great mental and emotional space within the lives of Jumpy’s characters.

As in everyday life, sex is at the root of much confusion, panic and disagreement; so we have disputing the inequalities of the sexes, the invisibility of older women and children bringing sex under the parental roof.

The performances match the quality of writing too, with Greig heart-breaking as Hilary.

Whether hovering on the brink of tears while smiling at points in space, being verbally backhanded by her daughter or begging the kids to stay around to chat, Greig emanates exhaustion, care and bewilderment in a moving performance.

This is perfectly balanced by both Bel Powley and Doon Mackichan, who play Hilary’s daughter Tilly and best friend Frances respectively. Powley’s tightly clothed, text happy ceiling starer is amusingly stereotypical without being irritating, while Mackichan is both brave and hilarious.

Jumpy holds a mirror up to the very real soul searching we all go through as we try to understand ourselves and what it is that we want to make us happy.

And De Angelis’ production is stellar in every sense.

EJ Robinson

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August 2012
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