Jumpy, Royal Court Downstairs, London
Inadmissable Evidence, Donmar Warehouse, London
Sixty-Six Books, Bush, London

A middle-age crisis makes for a lame sitcom, but a 24-hour play cycle rewards our up-all-night critic

She isn't happy. In April De Angelis's new comedy Jumpy, Tamsin Greig's Hilary has hit 50, we're told.

She's neurotically worried and depressed about ageism in the jobs market. Her daughter Tilly (Bel Powley) is a scornful teen, dolled up like a cartoon tart, clumping around in mega-heels, not giving a fig for mum's old feminist principles. Her singleton actress-friend, Doon Mackichan's Frances, mutton dressed as lamb, claims that the "burlesque" routine she's devising is a piece of empowered, post-modern irony, assuring Hilary that dirty dancing in a French maid's outfit will make her, too, feel like a new woman.

Basically, this is a lame sitcom, a variation on Ab Fab with the add-on of the Royal Court's current favourite theme – namely, the lost ideals of past decades. Hilary's backstory – Greenham protests – is barely integrated, and the dialogue mostly stilted. Greig manages to be funny, sweet and sad. Ewan Stewart, as her steady husband, is touchingly natural. They're surrounded by 2D caricatures, though, and Nina Raine's production fails to explain why Hilary is attracted to an adulterous smarmball, there being no sexual chemistry with Richard Lintern's Roland.

In Inadmissable Evidence – written by John Osborne in 1964 – the solicitor Bill Maitland is an Angry Ageing Man, incorrigible womaniser, vituperative git and alcoholic. Staggering around his dingy office on a chaotic working day, he's so insufferable that he could end up forsaken by everyone: staff, mistresses, wife, daughter.

Alas, in Jamie Lloyd's Donmar revival, Bill is also a motor-mouthed bore. Played by Douglas Hodge with surreal vaudevillean moments, he's never quite searingly nasty or howlingly funny. And the supporting roles aren't scintillating either. The playwright barely lets the female characters get a word in. Soutra Gilmour's set has some film noirish menace with its dirty skylights and yellowing blinds. But Bill bangs on, fulminating and floundering, interminably.

In January, the Donmar's artistic directorship will pass from Michael Grandage to Josie Rourke. Meanwhile, she's hardly resting on her laurels as the Bush's outgoing AD. Sixty-Six Books is a 24-hour cycle of new works by 66 writers incuding Jeanette Winterson, Wole Soyinka, Billy Bragg, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the list goes on.

Staged by Rourke and 22 other directors, with 130 actors, each script is a response to one book of the Bible: an alternative, notably anti-patriarchal and sometimes irreverent angle on the King James Bible quatercentenary. It kicks off with a satirical Godblog by Jeanette Winterson, performed by a power-shouldered Catherine Tate ("God here. People ask me how I came to be a global brand").

You can dip a toe in the water, see a few hours then head home. But I'd recommend total immersion (7pm to 7pm) for a sense of communal bonding and slightly delirious euphoria. It is, moreover, little short of miraculous that Rourke has got this up and running, like clockwork, as the first show in the Bush's completed new venue: a converted library that feels homely and relaxed, with a book-lined lounge and a bar that manages to feed and water everyone.

Inevitably, there's some chaff. Some scripts are overlong or obscure. The low-ceilinged auditorium also became sweltering. But this thrust staging, with flickering candles, is beautifully intimate, and the passing hours are scattered with gems: some richly poetic, some delicately capturing the inarticulacies of modern-day speech and bewildered pain at cruelties human or divine. There's a fantastically vivid description of Jonah's journey of despair and salvation, in the belly of the whale, by Nick Laird. Rowan Williams's ruminations on Lazarus and what "I am the Resurrection" can possibly mean are more intellectually puzzled than preachy.

Fetching up in the middle of the night, Juliet Stevenson performs an electrifying sensual answer to the Song of Solomon, by Carol Ann Duffy. And the musical contributions are transcendent. Billy Bragg singing his socialist folk ballad "Do unto others" is a breath of fresh air, as the theatre windows are flung open and the morning light floods in.

'Jumpy' (020-7565 5000) to 19 Nov; 'Inadmissable Evidence' (0844 871 7624) to 26 Nov; 'Sixty-Six Books' (020-8743 5050) to 29 Oct

Next Week:

Kate Bassett sees if Mike Bartlett's nightmares materialise in 13

Theatre Choice

The Pitmen Painters, Lee Hall's touching biodrama about the Ashington Group – 1930s Northumberland miners who became acclaimed artists – is back from Broadway for a West End run at the Duchess (to 21 Jan). Mark Rylance is also back as the maverick gypsy in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue (to 12 Jan).

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album