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Jumpy is an odd name for a play.  For what could it possibly be about – kangaroos?  A burglar hiding out in your basement?  A nervy trampolinist?

As it turns out, it’s none of these things.  Jumpy is about a mum in her fifties struggling to cope with a teenage daughter who bombards her daily with the usual mid-teen ammunition – anger, hatred, bile.  She loathes her job, trudges through an exhausted marriage and finds large glass bottles from vineyards in France, her only source of comfort.

What else can playwright April De Angelis throw at ‘Hilary’ (played by the brilliant Tamsin Greig)?  Pregnancies and sex?  Check.  Nakedness and adultery?  Yup.  Slutty entertainers?  Hit me.  Guns and murder?  Well…

A stellar cast supports Greig in this touchingly comic piece.  Bel Powley plays the stroppy tartlet ‘Tilly’ with oomph and chutzpah, successfully delivering us a character that is familiar but not clichéd. Whilst there’s a slight discrepancy between her Vicky Pollard-esque accent and the carefully enunciated, middle class, drama-schooly RP of Greig, we can imagine the impressionable youngster picked it up from the playground, or rather, the dodgy night clubs she often frequents.

“[Do as you’re told, you little brat] Whatever you say dear!”

Doon Mackichan is brilliant as the friend, ‘Frances’, not least because she has cracking legs and Richard Lintern as the failing actor / pseudo love interest, ‘Roland’, conveys arrogant uselessness with competence.

It’s worth noting this is one of the very few plays where the length is spot on. The interval comes when you want it to (just before you start fidgeting) and the climax at the end doesn’t drag on for centuries but is settled in a scene or two.

A fantastic show which matches humour with sentimentality and is definitely one to see…although, the question still remains, why ‘Jumpy’?  Other than connotations of nervousness, it’s a pretty random title for a play and as the show draws to a close, you begin to doubt you’ll ever find out.

Thankfully you do – and it’s worth the wait – but am I going to tell you what it is?  No, not a chance.  As the stroppy teenager still buried within would say: ‘you ain’t gettin’ nuffin from me.’

Jumpy is showing at the Duke of York’s theatre until 3rd November 2012

By Beenie Langley

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