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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Jumpy
Royal Court Theatre  Autumn 2011; Duke of York's Theatre Autumn 2012

As a nice variant from the Royal Court's generally serious repertoire, April De Angelis has written an enjoyable sitcom, full of legitimate laughs and with just enough serious leavening to distinguish it from the TV variety. 

A woman turning 50 and mother of a teenage girl must walk the tightrope of guiding her daughter toward adulthood while wrestling with the fear that her own identity as a woman is ending, or at least morphing into something strange and scary. 

There's a lot of fun in the interaction of the mother fighting her impulse to just lock her daughter up for the next several years and the stroppy sex-mad girl whose main life skill seems the ability to roll her eyes in disbelief without missing a beat in her constant texting.

But there is also the wise and sympathetic awareness that parenting is a job that nobody ever gets right, and that consists largely of constant crisis control. 

Tamsin Greig is a master comedienne of panic, in the mould of the young Maggie Smith, and she is the generating engine of most of the fun. But she can also (like Smith) turn on a sixpence into moments of breath-catching truth and emotional reality. 

Bel Powley manages to make the daughter absolutely enraging while still letting us see that there's a good kid hiding in there someplace behind the attitude and hormones.

Doon Mackichan adds fun as the obligatory even-less-in-control contemporary of the mother, and rightly stops the show with a demonstration of her defence against ageing, a hilariously inept burlesque routine. 

There are solid performances as well from Richard Lintern as a man briefly seeming to offer an adventurous escape before finking out, Sarah Woodward as the gorgon wife who explains both his temptation to stray and his ultimate spinelessness, and Ewan Stewart as the all-but-invisible husband and father whose departure doesn't leave a hole.

Nina Raine directs with a light hand that enables the play to move smoothly from broad comedy to touching humanity and back.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -   Jumpy - Royal Court 2011

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