Di and Viv and Rose - 3 February 2015 Review

Di and Viv and Rose is one of the very few pieces of theatre out there written by, directed by and starring women. I am all for equality of the sexes so it irks me to have to make a point of this out BUT the truth is many aspects in the world of theatre are very male dominated indeed. Hello ladies. I hope you are here to stay!

Amelia Bullmore's bitter sweet text is expertly crafted to showcase the ongoing friendship of three university friends - Di, a sporty and enthusiastic lesbian, Viv, a stern and focused Northerner with a penchant for "dressing like it's the war"  and Rose, a sweet yet promiscuous young lady with a penchant for bright clothes and floral headbands.  Bullmore lulls the audience into a sense of pleasant playfulness and promise in Act 1, only to hit them with a cold hard dose of reality in Act 2. Her ability to generate moments of true juxtaposition allows for true drama in this piece. It is a delight.

Anna Mackmin's choice to cast three ladies over the age of 40, Tamzin Outhwaite as Di, Samantha Spiro as Viv and Jenna Russell as Rose, is inspired rather than foolish. Somehow in doing so, Mackmin generates a sense of self reflection; it is as if the older women are reliving stories of their youth. This technique gives the show an interesting sense of depth; do their older selves regret the way they acted and are they subsequently stuck in reflective guilt?! It may be even more interesting if Rose had been cast younger still... but then Jenna Russell is a fabulous addition to any West End venture.

As a three hander and set over 30 odd years, each actress is gifted with a dynamic role which they portray with utter excellence. Despite dealing with abuse and sickness, Tamsin Outhwaite manages to retain a flicker of youthful vigour, Jenna Russell is bright eyed, then bleary eyed, then back again all the while retaining a sense of sweet innocence and Samantha Spiro comes into her own as she delivers a powerhouse performance in Act Two. Three great roles, three great actresses to play them; really that is most of the battle won in a performance!

Paul Wills' design and Simon Baker's sound work perfectly to take us through the eras whilst making it clear that the girls union was established very much in the 1980's. Act One's homely clutter and wobbly yellow bowls are a stark contrast to Act Two's slick white architecture and champagne glasses, working as a visual reminder of the generation jumps and hints at a colder turn in the girl's relationships.

Di and Viv and Rose is a nice little filler in the West End, presenting something different among the body of work out there at the moment. The show's most salable asset is it's simplicity; it is a play about life,  a play about ambition and above all it is a play about friendship. It is a tale that resonates with anyone and everyone.

Di Viv and Rose Review
3 February 2015, Vaudeville Theatre