When did you last call your mother? See the Royal Court’s hit show Jumpy, which has just transferred to the West End for a limited run, and you might find yourself reaching for the phone.
April de Angelis‘ comic romp through modern mother-daughter relationships and the decline of feminism is firmly set in today’s Adele- and UGG-boot saturated world. Hilary (Tamsin Greig) is a principled 50-year-old Walthamstow mum to the rebellious Tilly. Weighed down by Daunt book bags, shopping, a cuts-threatened job and a kind-but-ineffective husband, Hilary attempts to keep her life together. Her tactics: increasingly lenient treatment of her daughter, looking at old photos of her Greenham Common protest, giggles with her sex-starved best mate (Doon Mackichan) and glugging large glasses of wine.
De Angelis’ fantastically adroit script does contain pin-pricks of feminist politics, but these ideas are worn so lightly, the larger issues never overtake the desire to entertain. And this is a hugely entertaining show. Smart one liners crack around Lizzie Clachan’s muted white set as tempers fray and stakes are raised: both mother and daughter are missing periods for very different reasons.
Frances and Hilary’s exchanges are some of our favourite of the whole show. Only lifelong friends like this can dismiss the other with put-downs like “Decorating: it’s false consciousness” one minute, then sullenly confess “I haven’t got a pension,” the next. Director Nina Raine exploits Mackichan’s skill for physical comedy brilliantly; Tamsin Greig is equally funny and moving as a mum both appalled and amazed by her offspring. Bel Powley’s Tilly oozes teenage contempt, and while her performance is perhaps a touch one-note for our liking, she does still on occasion capture the fear and insecurity ever-present behind that teenage bravado. The echoes between her sighed, stomping “Go-oh-d!”, unknowingly repeated by Greig, combined with their akimbo elbows surely gives credences to Wilde’s assertion that “all women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy”. Tilly’s rebellious streak must have come from somewhere…
We must give a nod too, to the Royal Court’s casting team for finding the perfect male actors to underpin this fun, but thoughtful show. A perfect balance of stereotype and real characterisation, each of the guys felt like real people wandering their way through the confusions of today’s world. But the most kudos must go to Greig who really excels, making it all look so simple. Her plaintive “Do you think she’ll call us?” towards the end had us searching guiltily for our mobiles. Call your mum tonight; she’ll appreciate it, even if she doesn’t say so.
Jumpy plays at the Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, WC2 until 3 November. Tickets range from £15-£75. Visit jumpytheplay.com to find out more. Londonist saw Jumpy on a review ticket courtesy of Jo Allan PR.