Types of venues , Theatre
Until Sat Nov 3 2012
© Robert Workman
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Wed Aug 29 2012
As a 31-year-old father of none, I will put my hand up and say that I'm probably not in the target demographic for April de Angelis's comedy 'Jumpy'. Nonetheless, I don't think it's unreasonable to want a little more grit from a Royal Court transfer: not every play produced in London's flagship new writing venue needs to be a searing experimental drama about paedophiles, but at times 'Jumpy' is so resolutely middle of the road as to almost seem like an exercise in going against everything the Court notionally stands for.
This is not to say Nina Raine's production isn't enjoyable. Tamsin Greig plays to type brilliantly as Hilary, a 50-year-old mother and one-time ardent feminist, now coping with a stale marriage, uncertain career prospects, a hearty Jacob's Creek habit and a sexually precocious brat of a teenage daughter.
What Greig absolutely nails, in her neurotic woman-child way, is the sense of Hilary being caught in an ongoing, unnerving revelation: there is no such thing as 'growing up.' She is beset by constant incredulity and horror at a world that's still frightening at 50. More frightening, in fact, because as Greig and De Angelis painfully suggest, 50 may be too old to start things afresh.
So far, so good, but beyond its lead actor, 'Jumpy' is unwieldy. The 'big' comic moment comes when – apropos of practically nothing – Hilary's best friend Frances (Doon Mackichan) embarks upon an 'empowering' (read: humiliating) burlesque routine in an effort to seduce smarmy divorcee Roland (Richard Lintern). It's like something out of the worst sort of BBC sitcom, and symptomatic of a play that makes reference to Hilary and Frances's feminist beliefs without ever seriously interrogating them.
It is matched in witlessness by a scene in which Hilary discovers daughter Tilly (Bel Powley, good but one-note) has – for some mind-boggling non-reason – stashed a loaded pistol for a male friend. The throwaway inanity of the sequence is typical of a production in which the humour does its darndest to undermine the soulfulness in Greig's performance. There are laughs, but next to 'Posh' and 'Clybourne Park' – the Court's brilliant recent West End comedy transfers – 'Jumpy' is a tame relation.