Kelly’s mother Agnes (Penny Layden), finds it impossible to believe that Kelly, who has Down’s Syndrome, is not being taken advantage of by Neil (Siôn Daniel Young), who is neurotypical. Their blossoming romance is stalled by Agnes and the rest of Skegness, who find their relationship hard to fathom. But Jellyfish is also a coming of age story, revealing a nuanced and loving portrait of a mother and daughter, as Kelly finds her own independence.
Weatherill brilliantly crafts the scenes between Neill, full of flirting and sex. But like all relationships, it becomes complicated: and while Weatherill’s touch is delicate, Jellyfish is not averse to showing how tricky and challenging their relationship can be. A late appearance from another neurodiverse character Dominic, superbly played by Nicky Priest, is perfectly timed. He provides the best jokes of the night as he realises that Kelly did not consent to their blind date that Agnes set up.
Gordy is terrific as Kelly, delivering deadpan jokes with a sharp tongue and quiet defiance. She is nicely balanced by Young, who is softly spoken and compassionate. Layden too gives a fine performance, showing how deeply Agnes loves Kelly and strives to protect her.
Director Tim Hoare emphasises the steady pace of Weatherill’s script through unhurried scene changes, using spotlights on characters to magnify their relationships. A most beautiful and serene moment emerges in a simple and silent scene between Agnes and Kelly that is deeply moving.
Like an incoming tide, Jellyfish slowly but surely washes over its audience. Thought-provoking, honest, and entertaining, Jellyfish is so worth catching at the National during this limited run.
|What||Jellyfish, National Theatre review|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
05 Jul 19 – 16 Jul 19, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|