Hampstead has a hit on its hands with Amelia Bullmore’s play, Di and Viv and Rose, which has graduated from the theatre’s downstairs studio space into the main auditorium. It’s a very funny and deeply moving story of friendship, which traces the relationship between three women from university days into adulthood.
Rose is annoyingly sweet, kooky and furiously promiscuous, Viv a militant, ambitious sociologist, and Di a straight-talking lesbian. The three seem to have little in common, but their experiences draw them together to create an intense, believable union that encompasses infectiously high times, as well as lows, and will have you hooked.
Thankfully, although the students’ lives are laugh-out-loud funny, there’s more than 1980s nostalgia on offer. The girls grow up and the dynamics alter. As with the last show at Hampstead, Old Money, these are fantastic roles for women and the talented trio here excels: Anna Maxwell Martin is brilliantly funny as Rose and Gina McKee deliciously deadpan as Viv, while Tamzin Outhwaite steals the show as the dependable, no-nonsense Di, delivering a career-defining performance in a remarkably written part.
With the general notion that friendship replaces family in our modern age, Bullmore has one foot in sitcom territory – but her jokes are a lot ruder and much funnier. Producing tears as well as laughter, Di and Viv and Rose is a mainstream treat, yet the strength of the writing provides deeper insights that are sure to stay with you. It richly deserves its re-run.
Until 23 February 2013
Photo by Johan Persson
Written 24 January 2013 for The London Magazine