Thursday, 5 February 2015

Jumpy, 5 Feb 2015 ***

By April de Angelis, Melbourne Theatre Company 
MTC Southbank Theatre, the Sumner, 5 Feb until 14 March 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***
 Full review later when it is published in Herald Sun online and then in print. KH
 David Tredinnick & Jane Turner

Having an adolescent in the house can be like living with a rampaging, uncaged beast – so how do they grow up like that and why do parents tolerate their appalling behaviour?

In Jumpy, by UK playwright April De Angelis, poor, beleaguered Hilary (Jane Turner) wrestles with her wayward and rebellious 15-year old daughter, Tilly (Brenna Harding), lurching from one chaotic episode to another in her life.

Hilary is turning 50, losing her job as a Literacy teacher and dealing with bouts of panic, a failing marriage and the sense of creeping redundancy and invisibility of the middle-aged woman in a society that values youth.

In Pamela Rabe’s production, Turner brings her eccentric charm and comic sensibilities to the under-confident, insecure Hilary who she portrays as being in a perpetual state of bewilderment and barely controlled despair and anger.

Hilary’s story is both familiar and alarming with its depiction of parents held hostage by their mean-mouthed and manipulative child who is fused to her smart-phone and driven by raging hormones.

It leave one wondering why parents don’t just say, “No”, stop trying to be their kids’ best friend and set some clear boundaries from an early age.

De Angelis’s script skims across most of its issues with too much expository dialogue that provides only limited exploration of Hilary’s issues with ageing, relationships and parenting.

The narrative structure is sometimes unsatisfying, with time jumps that omit crucial scenes to explain the beginning, ending or resuming of relationships between Hilary and her jaded husband (David Tredinnick), Tilly and her boyfriend Josh (Laurence Boxhall), and between Josh’s parents (Caroline Brazier, John Lloyd Fillingham).

A comic highlight is Marina Prior as Hilary’s slightly predatory and well-preserved pal who toys with singles’ bars and, hilariously, amateur burlesque dancing.

The rhythm and pace of this production are a bit bumpy, with some scenes moving too slowly and, at two and a half hours, both the script and the production need tightening.

But if you live or work with teens, hold onto your seat because it’s a comical but uncomfortable ride.


Jane Turner as Hilary
Brenna Harding as Tilly
Laurence Boxhall, Caroline Brazier,John Lloyd Fillingham,  Tariro Mavondo, Marina Prior, David
Tredinnick, Dylan Watson

Director Pamela Rabe
Set Designer Michael Hankin
Costume Designer Teresa Negroponte
Lighting Designer Matt Scott
Composer & Sound Designer Drew Crawford
Voice & Dialect Coach Leith McPherson

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