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Review Round-up: Praise for Court Comedy Jumpy

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April De Angelis' new comedy Jumpy opened earlier this week (19 October, previews from 13 October) to critics at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs.

Tamsin Greig is Hilary, a 50-year-old wife and mother who once protested in Greenham. Now, she finds herself in protest with her promiscuous teenage daughter and shop-owner husband.

Continuing until 19 November, Jumpy is directed by Nina Raine and also features Bel Powley as daughter Tilly, Ewan Stewart as husband Mark, and Doon Mackichan as sex-mad best friend Frances.

Michael Coveney

"April De Angelis is a fine playwright who’s owed us a really good new play for some time. Despite a knockout performance by Tamsin Greig as her 50 year-old, crisis-ridden heroine, Hilary, I’m a bit jittery about declaring Jumpy that play. Yet another 'frank and funny family drama' feels like something belonging in the upstairs studio ... In Nina Raine’s attentive and well organised production, the mother and daughter stand-off is like an over-italicised version of what’s going on in Mike Leigh’s Grief at the National ... Lizzie Clachan’s sleek grey design of a Walthamstow household transforms cleverly into a Norfolk weekend coastal retreat where Frances, somewhat gratuitously, tries out her provocative new burlesque routine and seeks feedback when her balloon bursts. Hilary has a second act fling with an older boy ... which bumps us along to a nearly happy conciliatory ending which I liked; but why does the final bedroom scene in Walthamstow suddenly happen by the sea? It seems a bit late to make poetry of such a literal-minded, deliberately low-level and brutish comedy."

Charles Spencer
Daily Telegraph

"The Royal Court ... has another hit on its hands with April De Angelis’ new play, Jumpy. It’s funny, deliciously rude and at times piercingly moving, and stars that superb comic actress Tamsin Greig, giving a performance to match her award-winning Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing for the RSC a few years ago ... the play ... will make any parent with a teenager in the family laugh with recognition, wince with horror and, if you are as soft as I am, cry a little too. There are scenes here which will strike a chord of recognition with any parents who have tried to talk seriously to their teenage children only to find that the blighters are far more interested in perusing their text messages, and to any couple for whom the idea of sex after a long day at work is simply too exhausting to contemplate. But there are also wonderful scenes of comedy ... There were many moments when Jumpy made me snort with laughter ... Greig is superb, brilliantly combining scenes of exasperated comedy with moments of exhausted despair, and the scenes with her daughter, played with a spot–on mixture of insolence and vulnerability by Bel Powley are beautifully true and touching. Nina Raine’s production deftly blends the play’s comedy and deeper feeling while De Angelis keeps you guessing how it will all turn out until the very end."

Henry Hitchings
Evening Standard

"Tamsin Greig is a superb comic performer, and in this new play by April De Angelis she's on top form ... she is blissfully funny but also genuinely moving ... Misunderstandings proliferate, and Nina Raine's snappy production accentuates the first half's rich comedy. In the second the intensity drops, as the writing takes improbable and unsatisfying turns - including some ludicrous business with a gun. Yet the humour remains. This is a shrewdly observed picture of midlife crisis and the travails of marriage, as well as a striking depiction of the gap - in both time and ideology - between women such as Hilary, who camped at Greenham Common, and their daughters, whose lives revolve around Facebook, texting and nightclubs. Doon Mackichan's supple Frances, who is blessed with a lot of the zingiest lines, declares 'Being a woman and getting old is a disaster'. De Angelis puts this claim to the test. The play's politics are slight, and its feminism isn't exactly heavyweight. But for the most part it's perceptive, vigorous and entertaining."

Michael Billington

"April de Angelis has written a funny, generous play ... But I was surprised by how much the play, for all its candour, resembled one of those West End drawing-room comedies the Royal Court was designed to replace ... Like all De Angelis' heroines, Hilary is torn ... between empowerment and debilitation. This makes the role an ideal vehicle for Tamsin Greig, who has a natural gift for conveying strength and vulnerability at the same time. She has the air of a tough cookie, yet looks suitably shamefaced when forced by her best friend to dress as a French maid and guiltily evades the glances of a boy student who lovingly tends her wounded leg. Where other actors take you by storm, Greig conquers by stealth. She is well supported by Doon Mackichan as her sexually adventurous confidante, Bel Powley as her chippy daughter and Richard Lintern as her neurotic suitor, while Nina Raine's direction is crisp, clear and confident. But, although the play visibly works, I still scented a strong whiff of the Shaftesbury Avenue of yesteryear."

Libby Purves
The Times

"... A bouquet to playwright April De Angelis, and to Nina Raine’s deft direction. In Jumpy, they ... express a female predicament without whining. Tamsin Greig is perfect as the mother, Hilary ... married to Mark, a furnishings salesman who was once a fiery art student (ah, life’s attrition!) ... The 15-year-old Tilly is played with magnificent stalking defiance by Bel Powley in maximum eyeliner and minimum clothes ... The cast should adjust their timing: laughs were so loud on the first night that some top lines were drowned. The climax of Act I ... involve five priceless minutes that I must not spoil, except to say with a shudder that Doon Mackichan as the single friend illustrates the dire effect that Madonna and Lady Gaga have had on the stiff-knee generation. The second act flies beyond sitcom without losing comic pace. Things happen and questions tease: do middle-aged parents confuse moral and safety concerns with secret envy? Is it all right to sag a bit and stay married out of cowardice? Cleverly, there are three moments which could end it: one darkly farcical, one sentimentally tender, the last a truthful, funny tribute to love and resignation."

- Natalie Generalovich

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