‘Jumpy’ is a comedy for adults, about teenage angst. Written in 2011 by prize winning, English dramatist, operatic librettist, and actor, April De Angelis, this is her 20th play. Most of De Angelis’s output is historical, early Victorian. This two-hour play can be seen in the Melville Theatre on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra at 8.00 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until 2nd December, with a matinée on Sunday 26th November at 2.00 pm. The scene: is present day, in two or three, upmarket London flats of similar design. The director designed the set: The rear wall is a dark Royal blue / teal colour. The other walls are white. To the left are a staircase and a sofa. Centrally is a table and chairs, and a kitchen island, workbench. On the right stage apron is a bedroom with a double bed. The stage manager, Barbara Lovell and her assistant, Izzy Taylor were fast and efficient. Ian Hall smoothly operated the lighting and sound with the assistance of Injeong Jwang. Maggie Smith had to supply a diverse range of costumes, some of which brought a humorous smile, and another – wow – that brought a broad grin to the men, especially when presented with David Rose’s 1960’s music, and Sharee Rasmussen’s wild choreography.
Fifty-year-old Hilary (Cassandra Gorman) staggers into the house carrying two heavily laden shopping bags. Her fifteen-year-old daughter, Tilly (Amy Hoy), with teenage attitude, just stares. When Hilary’s husband, Mark (Tracy Tye) arrives home, he treats her like a piece of furniture – their passion has gone. Hilary wonders ‘is this what life is all about?’
Hilary pours herself a well-earned wine, as Tilly’s best friend, Lyndsey (Abby Phillips) arrives – well into pregnancy. Panic stricken Hilary quizzes Lyndsey about the father, precautions and what is happening about her schooling. When the two girls announce that they are going out to a nightclub, Hilary calls on Mark to stop them.
The doorbell rings, it is an old family friend, Frances (Laura Mercer) also fifty, but a total sex-bomb. The more Frances purrs, the more worried Hilary becomes about the relationship between Tilly and her boyfriend, Josh (Lachlan Felstead). Finally, she decides to visit Josh’s parents, surely they will help. Josh’s Dad, Roland (Peter Clark) is MOST sympathetic whilst the whinging mother, Bea (Samantha Edgar) is a miserable, uncompromising horror.
Thankfully, Tilly gives up Josh for a much more caring boyfriend, Cam (Tristan Peers); can Hilary and Mark find peace of mind at last?
This is a very funny comedy, the kind you shake your head at, and think probably every parent in the audience will see their family, or a neighbour’s, presented on stage.
The show was very well acted and presented – but, sadly, the scene changes were taking about 45 seconds each, and with several in each Act, this became tedious. I saw this play in Melbourne about three years ago, and admittedly they had sliding floors and a rotating stage, so there were no fades to dark, or holdups. The problem was not with the stage crew, who were very quick and efficient, but when they had finished in 10-15 seconds, we had to listen to (good, well chosen) music for a further 35 seconds. I understand that some of the cast will have had rapid costume changes, but I think that a minimal – but noticeable – change would have worked. If Hilary has a dark suit on, then simply change the dark jacket for a bright sweater, no need to change the whole outfit.
Comedy works by reaching a particular level of pace before the audience start to smile, and then further higher levels before the laughs and belly laughs. Each time the break lasts for 45 seconds, the atmosphere drops and the cast have to work hard to regain the laughter level. The music was good, but when it is a song rather than a simple melody, then there can be a tendency to leave the lights off and the music running until the end of a lyrical passage or verse.
Londoner, Miles Openshaw is obviously a talented director, and great new find for WA. I admire Miles for being a director that doesn’t simply play safe, but is willing to take a risk with new talent. In this show, he has selected half the cast from actors who are still school students, appearing in their first major community production. Amy Hoy is an amazing actor with excellent stage presence, whom I am sure, will have a great future. There were another couple of actors returning to the stage after a lengthy break, but without reading the informative programme (Vanessa Jensen), one would never have guessed these facts, as all of the performances were well paced, and convincingly delivered with the appropriate emotions. Peter Clark is a born comedian, who always lifts the cast around him. Congrats to Cassandra and Samantha for giving powerful, dramatic performances and to Laura for her daring and comedic relief. The cast worked well together and the whole show was very much enjoyed by the FULL – bursting at the seams – house. Try and get a ticket.