27 October -12 November 2016
Jumpy feels like a generic play, but of a new genre completely – the hyper-realistic account of a world in which social-media opens every aspect of our life to public scrutiny. The presiding theme of the play is the domestic & social tensions which arise between a teenage girl & her middle-aged mother. Very much a first hand account, its playwright April de Angelis, told the Mumble; ‘I wrote Jumpy around the time I turned 50 & my daughter 16. Two iconic ages in the same household lead for a stormy year which then inspired a play. It’s not a ‘true story’ per se but the feeling of being in, what was for me, uncharted parental territory was true. Writing the play also allowed me to reflect on other thoughts that year had given me; was the very liberal parenting style we had adopted the best? Did it sometime backfire on us?’
The stage we first encounter is slickly excellent – all the trappings of modern life heaped up jumble-grumblingly with a crumbling wallpaper & a fridge full of white wine. This is the universal nest of the disfunctional family unit – the wild teenager providing the main catalyst to a marriage held together through habit. Her name is Molly Vevers, her part Tilly, & she gives a razor-sharp account of her role – the rebellious harrumphing groan she made at one point being an uncanny audiomatch to our 9 year-old’s own protestations against parental authority. Indeed, this is one of the chief qualities of Jumpy – its universality, its warm embraces of reality – we’ve all been there in one form or another.
Jumpy is also very funny. Every scene has at least one power-gag, & there is a sprinkling of titter-spiraling thespian jokes provided by Lyceum stalwart Richard Conlon’s Roland. ‘I’m worried about you!’ sighs Gail Watson’s warmly raw Frances to her daughter… ‘Well, I’m worried about you, you’re fuckin’ mental,’ snaps back Vevers to her ‘mentalpausal’ mother. Into the mix we have plenty of modernisms – bodysonic dance floor, vagina necks & facebook sluts – plus a wicked wee sound track to boot. All these flavour the entertaining sub-plots which weave in & out of each other towards a deliciously delicate denoument. Televisual & quite sitcommy at times, & at others as if they were performing in your front room, Jumpy remains interesting throughout… perhaps fading from its high engagement factor a little towards the end – its almost two hours long.
The whole thing felt like an unconscious rebirth of the Commeddia Dell’Arte tradition of 16th century Italy: when various plots were played out by the same comedic stereotypes. Five centuries later these stereotypes have changed somewhat : the teenage pregnancy, the age-defying cougar, the shiver-grunting EMO, are what we moderns understand today. In an earlier interview, director Cora Bisset told the Mumble ‘In all honesty, this has been one of the most straightforward and enjoyable processes I’ve experienced. It’s a great play, and April has created these wonderful, recognisable, contemporary characters going through things we all painfully recognise. The tricky part has been finding the balance between the comedy of it and the very real, desolate vulnerability in all of the characters, and to never overstate either side.’ This is what makes Jumpy so excellent – tapping into so many streams of theatrical excellence at the same time, a ridiculously refreshing romp through the dramas that we all experience : domestic diligence, frosty partners, dangerous flirtations. When you watch Jumpy you are watching yourself, & because one should never take oneself too seriously, & neither does Jumpy, this is perhaps the perfect play.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography : Mihaela Bodlovic