Jumpy review at Theatr Clwyd, Mold – ‘an assured revival’
It has taken five years for April De Angelis’ hit Royal Court comedy to receive its regional première, but Lisa Spirling’s splendidly paced production is worth the wait.
Spirling brings a renewed sense of balance to jostling themes of inter-generational female empowerment and family crises revolving around the confused fragility of a feminist mum reaching an emotional jumping-off point at fifty – just when her daughter, Tilly, has turned into a terrifying teen going off hormonal rails of her own.
Polly Sullivan’s simple set design – a series of overlapping platforms – creates discreet pools of domestic intimacy within the Emlyn Williams Theatre’s big studio space, where the fiery mother-daughter relationship turns into a family battleground and everybody seems to be searching for a new sense of identity.
An excellent cast underplay the play’s soapy sit-com feel, while tapping into an underlying mis-match between former feminist ideals and a generation of girls more interested in sexting than protesting and taking the pill.
Sara Stewart is outstanding in the central role of Hilary, a one-time Greenham Common activist feeling unmoored from her sterile marriage. Funny and touching, her key scenes grappling with Charlotte Beaumont’s spectacularly stroppy Tilly blaze with the frustration of a woman adrift.
Kerry Peers hits the right raucous notes as the friend from Greenham days who sticks two fingers up at sexual politics by discovering liberation in over-sexualised burlesque. And there’s strong support from the men – including stand-out performances from Steven Elliott and Philip Wright as fathers and husbands who are equally at sea in a changing world.