I was lucky enough to be given a preview ticket for the new and soon to be a hit comedy, Jumpy, at The Duke of York's Theatre last week. This fabulous play by April de Angelis stars Tamsin Greig (you'll know her from Green Wing and Episodes) who plays a 50 year old mum of a 17 year old teenage girl. It's a play that will strike a chord with all those with teenage children and I found myself squirming at quite how accurate a portrayal it is.
April de Angelis really gets inside of the head of a middle-aged mum. I saw myself reflected more than once in the behaviour of mother towards her daughter. Who hasn't sat slumped after a hard day at work only to immediately brighten in tone and body language when a child comes through the front door. This is made all the more poignant and real by the subsequent, grumpy toned 'Alright' as she breezily asks 'How was school today?'. Often with a glass of wine in hand, mum Hilary is frustrated by the lack of impact she has on those around her and looks back on her youth (she was a Greenham Common protester) and the fact that once she was relevant.
It's a mid-life crisis comedy and has all the usual suspects, a hankering after a lost youth, a lack of passion in a marriage, a best friend who refuses to grow up and still believes she is sexy, and of course, a teenage girl of foul disposition but amazing frailty.
Don't let this put you off. Far from being cliched the writing and the acting transcends the mundane and obvious subject matter. We really feel for these characters and the smaller characters who weave in and out of the story-line. Tamsin Greig is superb but so is her best friend played by Doon Mackichan (Smack the Pony) and her daughter, Bel Powley, who plays moody then clingy with real belief.
Anyone who grew up in the 80's will recognise the soundtrack which includes music from The Clash, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Adam and the Ants - all giving us an insight into the mother's background and experiences. The staging too is very clever. All white with minimalist furniture it switches from a living room, to a bedroom to a beach scene easily and credibly.
I won't give too much of the story away here - safe to say it is instantly recognisable, very funny and in parts will reduce you to tears. Go see it while you can, it's one of the best things I've seen in the West End in quite a while.
Jumpy, The Duke of York's Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London WC2N 4BG. 16th August - 3rd November 2012. Tickets from £15-£75.