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Theatre review: Jumpy 
24th-Oct-2011 10:57 pm
tragicomedavatar
I decided to make a note this year of how many shows I went to, as I knew last year it was about 200 and wanted to be more exact this time. Well it's still October and already I've been to my 200th show (not counting repeat visits and the ones in New York) so I guess it's safe to say I'll beat last year's record. And what a memorable show to pick for the 200th, as April De Angelis' Jumpy is one of the funniest shows of the year but with a genuine dark side. Essentially a comedy-drama about a midlife crisis, Hilary (Tamsin Greig) is 50, worried about the prospect of losing her job, her marriage to Mark (Ewan Stewart) is stagnant and her 15-year-old daughter Tilly is much more sexually active than her parents are ready to cope with. She's also got the amorous attentions of Tilly's boyfriend's father (Richard Lintern) to deal with. At the play's heart, De Angelis is painting a pretty bleak picture of growing older, especially for women, but she does it in great comic fashion.

The casting in Nina Raine's production is what really brings it to life though, with two nicely contrasting styles from the actresses getting most of the laughs: Greig is of course a master of the one-liner with perfect comic timing who can also provide a grounding presence at the centre of the play; while as her growing-old-disgracefully friend Frances, Doon Mackichan is pretty much fearless - I won't give away the play's funniest scene but suffice it to say nobody who's seen Jumpy will forget "The Routine" in a hurry. The Royal Court brings back a couple of its young stars from shows Upstairs to have a go on the Donwstairs stage: The brilliant Bel Powley from Tusk Tusk is daughter-from-hell Tilly, while Wanderlust's James Musgrave is her out-of-his-depth boyfriend Josh. There's funny appearances from Seline Hizli as Tilly's pregnant friend and Sarah Woodward as Josh's terrifying mother. And towards the end Hilary gets some unexpected attention from young student Cam (Michael Marcus.) I may or may not have been very jealous of her.

And he gets his kit off. Aw, the Royal Court takes care of us, doesn't it? Anyway this is undoubtedly recommended - vanessaw also loved it despite the fact that, as the mother of a 13-year-old girl, by the end she was practically rocking in horror reciting the mantra "my daughter won't be like that, my daughter won't be like that." The show's already sold out - could it be the next Royal Court play to have a life further afield? It wouldn't surprise me.

Jumpy by April De Angelis is booking until the 19th of November at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs (returns only.)
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