April De Angelis
Lyceum Theatre Company
Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Jumpy has its ups and downs, following Hilary (Pauline Knowles) and her tumultuous relationship with her teenage daughter Tilly (Molly Vevers).
The play ranges from laugh-out-loud farce to tearful poignancy; it is certainly an emotional and entertaining play if a little strange and to begin with rather slow.
Knowles and Vevers are both excellent at portraying the middle-aged parent and teenager relationship, without resorting to parody or becoming too one-sided. You empathise with both characters—indeed they both have a certain charm to them.
The Lyceum's last production The Suppliant Women and last year's Tipping the Velvet looked at the struggles women faced in the past. With this production, Angelis is looking at feminism today through the eyes of the baby boomers and the millennials.
Hilary was at Greenham Common; Tilly though seems less interested in politics, although she is only eighteen. Hilary's friend Frances (Gail Watson) feels that feminism is over. The play certainly inspires plenty of debate on the subject of feminism.
Jumpy is very good at portraying modern family life, indeed it nails the awkwardness often too well for a comedy. There were also quite a few tender moments as the play progressed.
Perhaps a little too much is attempted in the play: the pregnancy plot line works well, but Tilly's later drama goes rather too far and doesn't seem as believable.
The way the play deals with sex though is really quite refreshing—both Hilary and Tilly get to explore that side of their character. There's a fun dance about what is on the characters' minds, there are explicit conversations and Hilary gets a pretty exciting love life.
There's good support from Stephen McCole as her husband Mark, Richard Conlon as friend Roland and Cameron Crichton as Cam, a fling of Tilly's who falls for her mother.
Hilary's men are wonderfully eclectic, her husband blandly oblivious, Roland an over-the-top actor and Cam an enthusiastic student. Knowles plays the worn-out mother well, but she makes sure we know Hilary has many other sides to her character too.
The music is a fun mix of classics from the past and more modern hits, a good way to symbolise the relationship between these two different generations. Also, a good way to fill the gaps between scenes as the play jumps through the weeks and months.
The time period of the play is a little jumpy to allow the different relationships to develop. It is shown through the jokey cinematic concept of leaves being ripped off a calendar by different characters as the play progresses.
Though it has a few imperfections, Jumpy is really engaging and Angelis does capture the humour and awkwardness of the mother-daughter relationship. Knowles and Vevers both deliver warm, witty and well-rounded characters.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin