Writer: April De Angelis
Director: Cora Bissett
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
The Lyceum’s second production this season, Jumpy, continues The Suppliant Woman’s commentary on the lives of women. More specifically April De Angelis’ Jumpy unfolds before the audience, a mother’s struggles with her daughter, her husband, but most importantly (arguably), herself.
What should be the storyline for a mediocre Saturday sitcom on BBC2 is actually a poignant comedy that manages to discuss a great deal while also highlighting its shortcomings. A lot of the production’s ability to do this is due to the direction of Cora Bissett, coupled with Angelis’ writing – the two manage to stitch together an entire history of feminist marches, progress and conflicts while also making us laugh and enjoy the evening.
What may at first feel like a strenuously painful examination of the transition from second, through to third wave feminism, is in actuality, very sophisticated writing. One can be forgiven for mistaking the writing as blunt, to a level of nearly insulting the audience, but there’s a delicacy in the production’s metanarrative. As one generation of women grows older (Hillary), protecting all they had worked and campaigned for socially and lawfully, some can’t grasp that this new generation has had its own wave of feminism (Tilly), and it is very different. The relationship between Hillary and Tilly is stunningly performed, both as a generational divide but also a metaphorical one between women.
From the baseline relationship, we have between the two best friends, age and alcohol, to the dangerously authentic jabs at actors, Gail Watson and Richard Conlon are astounding in their caricatures of over the top performers. The anxiety and desperation within the two are different but clear, Frances’ (Watson) libido starved sexy dancing is raucous, energetic and only a tad unpleasant. The drawback with this type of humour is that it becomes too grandiose. It crosses the line of reality in a way that is that step too far – is it funny? Oh, yes, but is it appropriate for the narrative? Debatably, not so much.
There’s a resonating accuracy in the way in which these characters are performed. Pauline Knowles and Molly Ververs as mother and daughter Hillary and Tilly are precise. Playing the rebellious teen can land any performer into hammy territory, but Ververs carries it off effortlessly. Her reactions are tragically all too familiar. There are no true antagonists, even characters who may display more selfish attitudes are handled with respect and reason. Lucianne McEvoy’s portrayal of Bea highlights this clearly. A small side character, who for all purposes should be an utter cow, is a strong mother who is thinking rationally, methodically (a little too methodical) but overall about her son.
Jumpy is not simply about family. It is most certainly not just about gender either, nor age. It’s about being human and the relationships we create to survive. Why else do we have children but out of the selfish need to have someone to talk to? Crafted and performed exquisitely, Jumpy is a fine addition to the Royal Lyceum’s in-house productions for 2016.
Runs until 12 November 2016 | Image: Mihaela Bodlovic