Jumpy by April De Angelis at the Lyceum
I’ve been conflicted about this play since seeing it, as April De Angelis’s tragicomic script is unusual. Not only are the wittiest and most memorable moments given to supporting characters, but many promising subplots are given little to no resolution – from multiple, very modern, romances to an accidental shooting, engaging pieces of action are pushed aside in pursuit of a satisfying ending for our protagonist, Hilary (Pauline Knowles). Hilary is pushing 50, her job is on the line, her marriage is monotonous, her relationship with her daughter, Tilly (Molly Vevers), is non-existent; and yet, I felt no sympathy for her. This was due, partly, to the amount of time Hilary’s plot was given to grow. The many subplots were so developed that it was tricky to remember who you were supposed to be rooting for – Hilary? Or the wonderfully funny actress friend, Frances (Gail Watson)? Or the sweet and unexpectedly profound teenage mother, Lyndsey (Dani Heron)? Or even the painfully stereotyped boyfriend, Josh (Kieran Gallacher)? In the end I found myself drawn toward the all-to-brief character of Cam (Cameron Crighton), the charming and thoughtful uni student with whom Hilary spends a night – but I don’t think this was the aim of De Angelis.
This is not to say that this production of Jumpy is not riotously funny – it certainly is. With perfect timing from both the actors and the script, this is a play that certainly delivers on its promise of comedy. What stood out most for me, however, was its relatability. The portrayal of the mother-daughter relationship, which is so central to the play, will strike a chord with any woman – this is thanks to the subtly sensitive performance of Vevers. A couple of times I found myself worried that she was about to stray too far into stereotypes and caricatures, but every time she brought it back with such conviction and sincerity that I forgot I was watching a play and felt like a fly on the wall in a real home.
On reflection, I think this was my overriding feeling throughout the night, which is tribute to the spot-on performances of the cast. They perfectly combined accessible emotions and ridiculous scenarios to create a show that, at the end of it, felt like a love letter to life in Scotland’s suburbs. The set aided this, as it’s jumbled piles of Ikea furniture and well-thumbed books reminded me of my own home, especially the oversized, off-white sofa I’m sure every family has owned at least once.
What I’m trying to say is this: while the script has its shortcomings, these were more than made up for by the talent of the cast and the creative team, who clearly put their heart and soul into this production.
Also, I will never forget Frances’ dance as long as I live.