"Jumpy" by April de Angelis
Lace Market Theatre
"Jumpy" is primarily a play about a 50 ish woman who, in her youth was a Greehham Common protester, but is now fighting her own battle with getting older, her husband Mark, her relationship with her best friend Frances, and her daughter Tilly. Some would say Tilly is a bit wayward but, being the father of a teenage daughter, Tilly is just being a normal teenager who has a need to be herself through teenage expression.
There are various relationships which evolve and disintegrate over the span of the play, mainly with Tilly and her various "friends", who often appear on stage just in their pants, making sure that we, the viewer, have a fairly good idea at what has been going on.
Liza Pybus (Hilary) plays a very natural mother who has all the worries over her daughter's out of school activities, but also plays out a very sympathetic view of the angst when you have a teenage daughter who is at that age where she wants to break free. A lovely comic, and at times sad portrayal of a "normal' mother, wife and friend who just wants to do right by everyone.
Tilly, the 15 year old daughter, is played by Heather Pearson. Heather is still of the age group where she can worry a parent and by being of this clan, makes for a beautifully realistic and believable character in Tilly. I saw a lot of my own daughter in this characterization with the language and attitude, but it was also lovely to see that mother/daughter interaction as well as the bitter hatred from the teenager. Some nice black and white shades of character and you can see the development of Tilly's maturity from the start to the end.
Frances is the comedy/sexy character here, and who better to do sexy/comedy than the lovely Kareena Sims. There's a scene that combines both sexy and funny when, whilst on holiday with the families, she reveals her latest idea of performing burlesque. Again a real naturalness about the role and Kareena's acting. I found myself making comparisons with some of the strong female TV comedy characters in sit coms; characters like Bev Callard's character in "Two Pints Of Lager" and Lesley Joseph's Dorien in " Birds Of A Feather".
The play is more female focused and the male roles, while being played excellently, were definitely not to the forefront of the story, and that's good to see because there aren't too many good plays that bring the female characters to the fore. It's like the women are the Christmas Tree and the male characters are the baubles and lights which are dotted around to make bits of the tree look pretty. But while a tree looks good on its' own, you'd miss the sparkly lights and baubles, so they are important to the whole visual image.
Thomas D Lang plays Hilary's husband Mark, Dan Logbottom (Roland), James Green (Josh), Alistair Jack (Cam), Josh and Cam being Tilly's young sleep overs, and then last but no means least Grainne Cockrill-Pearsonas Tilly's pregnant school friend, Lyndsey. Grainne has a quite emotive speech in Act 2 as she deliberates on her life choices.
The set, while simple in design, is transformed with ease from Hilary's place to Dan and Bea's place (Roland and Bea being Josh's parents; Josh being one of Tilly's piece's of fluff who does make an impression in the play), to the holiday setting. This set transformation is carried out by the cast members and stage hands and the design by Neil Duckmanton is effective without being distracting.
There's some strong language, which may offend because some sections are quite strong, so the play may not be for the easily shocked, but it's a gritty story which you'll associate with if you're a parent. If your not a parent, you'll still love the realism of the characters, the themes and the comedy of the situations as well as the energy and emotion. Men will love it for Frances and the other female characters and the ladies will also have something to ogle over with the younger male actors who, shall we say, didn't overtax the costume department, or the florist!
It's funny and it is well worth seeing all this week at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 20 June 2015.