Amelia Bullmore’s three woman play, Di And Viv And Rose at the Vaudeville Theatre begins in 1983 with all the optimism of starting university set against a simple black backdrop, large coloured squares and a spotlight . The three characters of Di (Tazmin Outhwaite) Viv (Samantha Spiro) and Rose (Jenna Russell) are introduced with the spotlight lighting up on them at various scenes around the stage, showing the three distinctive personalities embarking on the adventure of starting university and subsequently sharing a house together.
‘There’s a girl next door who dresses like it’s the war’ says Rose on the halls of residence shared telephone about her future friend Viv, brimming from the seams with naivety, not a bad bone in her body.
The very sporty Di who also happens to be a lesbian, has a great physicality and presence shown by Outhwaite, with a hard as steel persona that we see crumble near the end of Act One with great ease and precision. Although herself and Rose seem quite different in personalities they both share a great sense of zest for life that the conscientious Viv does not share, although the bond seems to be set in stone, the dynamic of the three girls just works. This relationship is demonstrated beautifully by their singing and dancing together in the lounge to Run DMC and Aerosmith’s song ‘Walk This Way’.
Jenna Russell is perfectly cast as excitable Rose who you can’t help but fall in love with due to her pure joy of the whole university experience. Her promiscuity rooting from her desire to be loved as her mother was left traumatized after her father died, but later remarrying. Although her attitude to life annoyed her friend Viv, Russell shows a relentless oblivion and determination to block out anything bad from her view. Even when she buys three bowls that wobble due to being faulty, she has a carefree innocent attitude towards the farcical situation.
Act Two of the play has much darker undertones than the first, although apprehensive at first, it become apparent to me that this prevented any static feel creeping in to the production. Grief and shock summarize the emotions that are projected from the characters, but it’s a testament in particular, to the superb acting of Spiro, whose sharp and witty delivery of her lines still resembles the comedic value of the first act. ‘ I’m getting a divorce, I got married’ Viv informs Di, her business like approach to life summing up her dead pan humour. The harsh reality of the world after university for the trio unfolds quickly in front of the audience.
The House that the three ladies share is full of great 80’s details from the colour scheme on the walls to the connecting serving hatch in the wall to the lounge. What seemed very striking was Paul Wills minimalist and cold set design in Act Two that complimented the Act to perfection. The emptiness felt by the characters reflects in the 90’s minimal furniture of the train station and Viv’s New York Apartment.
Director Anna Mackmin’s production of Di And Viv and Rose is a wonderful tale of female friendship over more than 25 years that has you laughing, crying and feeling every emotion the characters on stage are feeling. With stunning performances from the cast, you are simply taken along for the rollercoaster ride that is called life.
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