Di and Viv and Rose, a heart-warming play written by Amelia Bullmore and directed by Anna Mackmin, has arrived in the West End after a humble beginning in 2011 at the Hampstead Theatre. Set in 1983, a trio of 18 year old girls meet at university: Di (Tamzin Outhwaite), a sporty, lesbian business student; Viv (Samantha Spiro), an ambitious, stern sociologist and Rose (Jenna Russell), a promiscuous but loveable art history student.
Within moments of all three characters appearing on stage it very much becomes an overstated case of an ‘unexpected’ friendship group thanks to extreme visual and verbal contrasts. Despite this, the opening scenes of the production are swift and humorous, very quickly taking us through their first year in halls. Once they have decided to live together we are transported into their garish, cosy new home, becoming a fly on the wall and settling into a situation which for me as a student, seems extraordinarily familiar.
This first half is by far the most enjoyable. Full of witting one-liners, stereotypical student behaviours and all kinds of conversations that women really do have with each other, Russell in particular delivers a charming personality with spot-on comedic timing. The play then lingers in this time period, enabling the audience to get-to-know each character and watch their lives become more intertwined through the ups and downs of reality. Outhwaite, Spiro and Russell all do a remarkable job of convincing you they are younger than their years and appear to have a real connection with each other; this is particularly effective in making the audience shed a tear when silly misunderstandings and more serious events seemingly threaten to tear them apart. What initially seems like a very light-hearted comedy soon becomes an unexpected emotional roller-coaster, stabbing us with moments of devastation in a slightly serrated rush through the decades. In the second half especially, it becomes more and more relatable to everyone as the focus progresses from student life to the difficulties of maintaining close relationships when things don’t necessarily go to plan.
By the end of the show you feel as those you have been with these characters through every major experience in their lives and it certainly leaves you thinking about your own friendships, and the history you have created and shared with others. Whilst Di and Viv and Rose isn’t an absolute ‘I must see this more than once’ kind of show, it is a pleasure to see such an authentic, touching performance and is definitely a recommended watch.
Review by Sarena McIlwaine
Di and Viv and Rose stars Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell, and is a hilarious and thoughtful exploration of friendship’s impact on life and life’s impact on friendship. Amelia Bullmore’s acclaimed new play crackles with wisdom and wit. Directed by Anna Mackmin, it’s was a sell-out not once but twice at the Hampstead Theatre prior to this West End transfer.
Aged 18, three girls join forces at university, where life is fun and living is intense. Rose is a free-spirited art history student who sleeps with any boy she fancies, Di is a sporty lesbian who is taking business studies, and Viv is a sociology student with a ferocious work ethic. They seem unlikely friends, but somehow they remain attached through separation, varied career paths and even mortality.
Di and Viv and Rose West End trailer
Di and Viv and Rose
Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Age Restrictions: Suitable for ages 12+
Booking From: 22nd January 2015
Booking Until: 14th March 2015
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 3.00pm