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Theatre review: Di and Viv and Rose 
10th-Oct-2011 11:22 pm
tragicomedavatar
Amelia Bullmore's Di and Viv and Rose, her latest in a series of collaborations with director Anna Mackmin, opens the new season of Hampstead Downstairs new plays. Following the titular characters from 1983 to 2010, it's a story of female friendship that, judging from tonight's attendance, has attracted a large female audience but which doesn't rely on attacking men to do so. Bullmore has nicely defined the trio's characters right from the start and although they're given various conflicting character traits, most notably in their sexualities (Nicola Walker's Viv seems barely aware of sex, Claudie Blakey's ditsy Rose is cheerfully promiscuous and Tamzin Outhwaite's tracksuit-clad Di "sits at the lesbian table") they feel like real people who could believably have become friends. Meeting as students and deciding to rent a house together they go through a lot of good times and a few very bad ones until graduation changes the mechanics of their friendship, without altering their affection for each other. It's a very, very funny play whose humour only makes the sad moments, when they come, hit with more force. Even though (Spoiler Alert!¹) one of the three dies, I was relieved that one of them moving to New York didn't signal the ubiquitous, unnecessary 9/11 twist I was dreading. Though the play itself is strong, the biggest hit is the casting, with Blakey, Outhwaite and Walker utterly convincing as long-term friends who are having a lot of fun - something Mackmin's production gives them a lot of opportunities to do. I've not heard anything about this transferring to the West End but if Belongings could secure a transfer then this is much more deserving of a wider audience; and given how quickly it sold out with minimal publicity I would say that audience is out there.

Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore is booking until the 15th of October at Hampstead Theatre's Michael Frayn Space (returns only.)

¹although if you didn't guess this from the basic plot summary you must have never seen a play or movie before
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