Death and the Maiden - what the critics said
Review: The Last of the Duchess and the Ben Whishaw experience

Jumpy: fun and substance and not knowing where to look

Jumpy-royal-court-007Front row is always my favourite place to sit at the theatre but it can come with one or two disadvantages. Firstly you are in spittle firing range if an actor really goes for it and secondly you can sometimes see the actors from angles that aren't always flattering.

It was the latter problem that had me not knowing where to look at times on Monday night as I watched April De Angelis' new play Jumpy at the Royal Court.

Short skirts were the problem or rather 'pelmets' as my mum would have described them. Doon Mackichan (Frances) in a leather basque and fishnets doing burlesque is oddly fine, really funny in fact but the knickers revealing skirts just made me feel a little bit awkward.

The costumes are all thankfully in context. The play is about a mother-teenage daughter relationship. Hilary (Tamsin Greig) threatened with redundancy, with her daughter Tilly's (Bel Powley) increasing independence and a marriage that has become routine questions the future. Having demonstrated at Greenham Common she wants Tilly to grow up to be a strong woman who doesn't feel pigeon-holed by her sex or objectified.

Tilly on the other hand is concerned only about parties and boys. She huffs and stomps, is glued to her mobile, full of back-chat and embarrassed by her parents.

And, knickers on show aside, Jumpy is brilliant. It's a witty and extremely funny play that demonstrates that parents are from Mars and teenagers are from Venus. I don't have kids but I couldn't help having all sorts of thoughts that reminded me of my own parents (which made me cry a little inside - it is true I am turning into my mother).

But aside from the humour this is a play with substance touching on such issues such as underage sex and feminism in the 21st century as well as parenting and the rules of attraction.

For all the frustration and arguments played out in the mother-daughter relationship there is also an underlying warmth. For all Tilly's teen bluster there are a couple of times when the veil slips and you see her vulnerability and neediness. Likewise with Hilary, even when she appears to throw in the towel, it's obvious she hasn't really.

Greig is superb working her way through the emotional buttons that a teenage daughter inevitably presses as well as Hilary's own uncertainties and confusion of feelings as she embarks on a brief affair. Powley gives Tilly just enough 'Kevin the teenager' without falling too much into the pit of parody. And of course Mackichan is splendidly funny as Hilary's best friend who is forever on the prowl for men. In fact there isn't a single weak performance.

I loved Jumpy and I'm going to give it a resounding five stars. The professional's quite liked it and of the five reviews in the What's on Stage Round up it got an average of 3.6/5


The most obvious one is Tamsin Greig and Richard Lintern (Roland) who were both in Ready When You are Mr McGill which Mr W had a small part in early in his career