‘You’re ruining my life!’ may sound like a stereotypical teenage response to parental domination, but somehow – miraculously – Jumpy manages to avoid all the rotten familial clichés. April De Angelis has managed to lift the cobwebs and the moth balls out of the tired ‘family drama’ and breathe a bit of life into the genre. And it couldn’t have come soon enough.
Jumpy tells the story of Hilary, a 50-year-old mother facing the on-set of menopause while praying that her job will ride out the recession. She’s got a husband who adores her and bores her to tears, a best friend who’s desperate to feel young again and a daughter who acts like a cross between Harry Enfield’s Kevin and Carrie at the Prom.
Tamsin Greig is superb at the fidgety Hilary, so wrapped up in being a mother that she’s forgotten what it means to be a woman. She’s completely knackered and mercilessly over-stimulated at the same time.
Her daughter, Tilly, played by Bel Powley, is a typical grumpy teenager who thinks she knows better than her stuffy old parents. She can wrap her dad around her little finger, but her mum isn’t such a push over, and as a result takes the brunt force of her endless tirade of teenage bulls**t.
As De Angelis’ smart and witty play unfolds we watch Hilary’s life crumble, only to share her guilt-ridden joy at experiencing love, lust, sex and youth all over again. She lets the twenty-year-old who’s been trapped for thirty years escape and it’s an absolute joy to watch.
Tamsin Greig is the core of the show and she’s unsurprisingly brilliant. As the play closes and the reason behind the title Jumpy is finally revealed, the audience are hanging on her every word. The staging, music, scene changes and the rest of the technical elements are seamlessly executed – this is a cast that’s in control and, boy, do they know it.
Instead of adopting the cliché that every fictional family needs to be affected by some monstrous calamity, De Angelis has found the intrigue and the humour in everyday life and played with it. Every argument skilfully acted throughout the play is likely to have a mirror image in the lives of every audience member. As Hilary screams at her daughter, laments at her husband and scorns her best-friends’ lust for life, we know she’s not the villain of the piece. She’s the hero. Why? Because she’s the glue that holds them all together and for that she deserves a bloody big medal.
Jumpy runs until 3rd November 2012 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London. Tickets can be booked here or by calling 020 7565 5000
Sarah Jordan @S_L_Jordan