You are here:   Civilisation >  Theatre > What Are Big Girls Made Of?
 


The joys of Walthamstow: Tamsin Greig and Bel Powey in "Jumpy" 

Some of us go to the theatre for the sheer relief of leaving rows with recalcitrant adolescents at home. So it is a mixed blessing to find that teenage torment is so beloved of directors this autumn. At least we have compensation in Tamsin Greig, whose performance in Jumpy at the Duke of York's Theatre offers the sweet solace of seeing someone else's offspring being impossible.

Greig has established herself in BBC2's  comedy Episodes as an exponent of angsty mid-life uncertainty. As put-upon Hilary  here, she doesn't have the harsh glamour of a screenwriter's life in L.A., just the joys of commuting from Walthamstow, a precarious job and daughter Tilly (an extravagantly sulky Bel Powey), whose main concerns are party-going, random sex and the wellbeing of her iPod. Greig embarks on the Golgotha of teenage parenthood, issuing brisk lectures on revision times and personal responsibility. Tilly wears her down: a process exacerbated by Hilary's nagging mid-life fretfulness. "Like you're so happy," is Tilly's sarky rejoinder to the umpteenth sermon — and of course, she isn't, which manifests itself in a flirtation with Tilly's boyfriend's dad, a marital rift and a guilt-sodden fling with a passing student. By this stage, sustained only by regular infusions of cheap white wine, she is behaving as erratically as her daughter.

Nina Raine's direction leavens all this domestic woe with some outright farce. Frances (Doon Mackichan) as the rackety friend, urges post-feminist release — and performs a show-stopper in a leather bodice and feather duster. (This show has its own burlesque consultant, named Crimson Skye: which is just as it ought to be.)

April de Angelis's writing is generally sound, though her grasp of social milieu is  wonky, so Tilly excels at GCSEs while living it large with single-mum Lyndsey (Seline Hizli), a benign version of Little Britain's Vicky Pollard, whose main aspiration is to work as a nail technician and has all but forgotten her recently stabbed boyfriend. This might make for amusing contrasts, but it doesn't ring true. There is also here one lazy descent into the direst cliché, when Hilary issues a list of things she doesn't want her daughter to succumb to at university and concludes: "Become a Tory". How we laughed. Given that Tilly has by this stage had a near-miss pregnancy, taken possession of a gun and featured for her sexual athletics on Facebook, you'd have thought that a dalliance with Tory Boy should be the least of her problems.    

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.