Review: Di And Viv And Rose, A Heart-Warming Story Of Female Friendship

We all like to reminisce about our university/college days. That first taste of independence, cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, wine drank from the only clean mugs and often doing little work. Now at the Vaudeville Theatre (transferred from the Hampstead Theatre) Amelia Bullmore’s play Di And Viv And Rose offers a wonderful insight into the lives of three women, who meet as students in the Eighties and there we see the trials and tribulations of their bitter-sweet friendship together.

Initially it seems an unlikely friendship from these slightly caricatured personalities. Rose (Jenna Russell) with her overpowering ‘eager to please’ manner, the sporty lesbian Di (Tamzin Outhwaite) and wartime dressing, impassioned Viv (Samantha Spiro), but what separates them only seems to bring them closer.

Anna Mackmin directs a host of celebrated British talent and even though at times it feels a little contrived it makes for very easy watching. There is some real humour in the form of some air guitar to Aerosmith’s ‘Walk this Way’… which, admittedly, felt very familiar. Even though I didn’t grow up in the Eighties there were moments that were very relatable and had me wincing with ‘Oh no, I did that.’ - Yes, I did use a fan as an air machine.  Paul Wills set is brilliantly nostalgic, particularly the girls’ home at university. Also his snap shots of conversations at the beginning are cleverly designed and set up the foundations for the rest of the production.  

Di And Viv And Rose at the the Vaudeville Theatre is a real celebration of friendship and explores how sometimes life can get in the way; you always have ups and downs but ultimately your friends are your support network. After the initial laughter, fun and carefree times, the trio are hit with a tragedy as Di is raped by an intruder in their student home. They build a tent in the living room to offer security and this significant event marks the change of these girls into women and they embark on the rest of their lives. Rose, after years of promiscuity, finds herself pregnant and Viv has been offered a dream opportunity in New York.

We see them through the years as they battle life’s struggles and try to keep in touch but ultimately their history holds them together, full of memories and fond times. The second half is fairly pacey compared to the first which sadly, I feel, reduces an amount of empathy for what has come to these three friends as we fly through the years.

By the end, however, you realise friendship is precious and many people have commented that they felt compelled to message their friends straight after the production and it’s easy to see why.

Di And Viv And Rose is a heart-warming story of female friendship, easy to watch and easy to enjoy.

Rebecca Usher

Di And Viv And Rose runs at the Vaudeville Theatre until Saturday 23rd May. Book your Di And Viv And Rose tickets now, £10 OFF Price Baand A and B. Discount valid Monday to Thursday until 26th February.

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