‘A (Regular) Week at Jimmy’s’ review by Zara Stokes Neustadt

A (Regular) Week at Jimmy’s, by Isabel Bainbridge, did what it said on the tin. It unveiled a series of vignettes at the infamous club, giving the audience a glimpse into the personal dramas and angsts of the attendant club-goers. There are rugby lads, faux-roadmen and drama kids: not novel targets of satire. However, taking Bainbridge’s play as the dry spoof of Durham that it is, this piece of theatre is solidly fun. 

Firstly, it was uniquely refreshing to see some new faces on a DST stage. Helped by the fact that the audience was thoroughly on side, each performer brought energy and spirit to Bainbridge’s production, emulating the lampooned personalities of the Jimmy’s crowd. The final, enthusiastic applause was deserved. Highlights included Jacob Cordery, as the painfully awkward John; his embodiment was consistent and engaging, and his delivery contributed a nice flair to the lines. Tilly Alexander’s Arabella was precise in her assured Durham-girly awfulness, and Tom Carroll’s ‘roadman’ got several laughs/groans. The play could have afforded to distribute the multi-rolling with more balance, but cast members were well-suited to their parts. Though uncredited as an actor, the narration of Andrew Mullins was particularly effective, his grasp of pace and tone was evident, and his gravitas brought home the irony of dedicating a play to Jimmy Allen’s. On this note – the use of projection to introduce and conclude the play was inspired. At points it channelled a similar energy to having a PowerPoint night with your mates, further solidifying the informal yet fun atmosphere. 

Coming in at fifty minutes, a visit to Jimmy’s was a great opportunity to exhale the exam stress and laugh at what every Durham student has in common – shit clubs. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine Bainbridge’s play working on a non-DU platform; at least, without editing. Not just the gags about the price of Woodgates, but a lot of what was charming about the performance was the specificity. It was effectively a staged inside joke. Rather inevitably, though, a consequence of the show’s appeal to student commonality was that the gags were (more often than not) fairly low-hanging fruit. This is not to discount the moments of comic achievement, present at points of the play – the callback to Tom Boddington’s Dan Johnson was great – but it certainly limited its comic potential. Gags were relatable, yes, but did not contribute that original a perspective to the content or form. Additionally, some performances would have benefited from greater enunciation and projection. 

What Lion TC’s play perhaps lacked in polish, it made up for in sheer atmosphere. Example – there were some rowdy goings-on mid-performance, and it was genuinely unclear whether the noises came from a sloshed Hatfielder or were included within the show. I believe this to be a testament to the efforts of cast and crew to put forth a show that knew what it was – an entertaining and unserious take on Durham’s most beloved of nightlife establishments. And I definitely left with a smile on my face.

Picture taken from @liontheatrecompany on Instagram. 

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