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Di and Viv and Rose

by on 15 June 2019

Anywhere, Anywhen, Together

Di and Viv and Rose

by Amelia Bulmore

The Questors at the Studio, Ealing until 22nd June

A Review by Genni Trickett

Di and Viv and Rose is, as you would expect, a play about three women. Three women at university in the 1980s. Three women with very strong, disparate personalities. Three women who, throughout their lives, will share and support each other through experiences both good and bad. Three women called…err, Di and Viv and Rose.

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Despite the strong whiff of nostalgia running through the play, emphasised in this production through the use of political activism posters and a catchy 80s soundtrack, the play itself seems strangely timeless. For the most part it’s set in the north of England, but that also is irrelevant. These three women could be anywhere, anywhen. All over the world, this kind of deep, complex, very female relationship has been played out, over and over again, since the beginning of time. Writer Amelia Bulmore focuses intently on the intertwined personalities of the three as the basis for the story, their shared house serving almost as a protective bubble for much of the first act, but the intense social and political upheaval of the era outside is reflected in the personalities of the girls.

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Rose is a well-to-do, bubbly arts student, with a penchant for sleeping with anyone who takes her fancy. Di is a strapping, sporty, proud lesbian, who nevertheless daren’t come out to her family. And Viv is a no-nonsense intellectual feminist, obsessed by the social history of the corset.

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All three actresses inhabit their roles with verve and gusto, making their characters sympathetic and believable. Lauren Grant, as Rose, is perhaps the most comfortable in her character’s skin, playing her with a wide-eyed childishness that seems very genuine. Their interactions are, for the most part, lovely to watch – although a joint dance sequence to Prince was overlong and very awkward.

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Despite the strong characters and acting, the play is patchy; whether this is due to the writing or to Sukhi Kainth’s direction it is hard to tell. It begins with a series of jerky vignettes – maybe a legacy of Bullmore’s screen writing past – which then stretch gradually, like bubblegum, to form whole scenes. At times it feels dragged out, and at times rushed; possibly the whole script could have done with some judicious pruning. Bron Blake’s set was also often more hindrance then help; people tripped over trailing phone wires, bumped into chairs and, at a point where we really should have been focussing on tragic Viv, we were all distracted watching the other two running around with mattresses.

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Despite its flaws, there is enjoyment to be derived from Di and Viv and Rose. Merely watching and listening to the girls is a delight, and, thanks to our emotional investment, the occasional moments of darkness pack a heavy emotional punch. With some trimming and tightening, it could be a great success.

Genni Trickett
June 2019

Photography by Carla Evans

From → Drama, Reviews

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