What’s it all about?
Di And Viv And Rose is a warm, witty, charming, comfortable, endearing drama about friendship, specifically the enduring friendship between three women who meet at university in the mid-80s.
We follow them from student house, complete with cassette-playing ghetto blaster and passionate belief in the world of opportunities open to them, to the present day, through the ups and inevitable downs.
Who’s in it?
Tamzin Outhwaite, who appeared in the play’s two previous stagings at Hampstead Theatre, returns to lead the cast as Di, the sports-mad lesbian of the group, away from home for the first time and eager to be herself. The glue that sticks the trio together, Outhwaite finds both the obvious strength and hidden vulnerability in the devoted daughter, while also displaying a talent for manspread.
Jenna Russell, fresh from Urinetown The Musical, is a delight as the dippy, countrified, boy-worshipping Rose, bringing the exotic excitement of coriander to her friends and finding all the fun in her descriptions of boys’ ‘things’ and ladies’ ‘vas’.
Samantha Spiro is a wonderfully uptight Viv, the student who actually wants to study and is impassioned by the female-controlling, identity-exposing subtext of clothing. Driven, single-minded and eloquent, Spiro finds the fire in the high flyer.
What should I watch out for?
The moments, that you probably won’t see coming, that give Outhwaite the opportunity to shine. There are a couple and they hit you hard.
The extended student house Walk This Way dance routine which, if you ever shared such an abode, will immediately transport you back to your younger days.
The use of phones during the production and Paul Wills’ simple, effective design that supports it, and not just for the nostalgic hit of Rose asking to borrow a 10p for the pay phone.
In a nutshell
Friendship, nostalgia, warmth and wit; Di And Viv And Rose is a play you could stay mates with through thick and thin.
What’s being said on Twitter?
@missjanetellis Loved everything about @DiVivandRose. Brilliant writing, acting and direction. Hated that it had to end. Girls, can’t we pull an all-nighter?
@nicheburns Di Viv and Rose was completely brilliant last night. @mouthwaite, @Samanthaspiro and @jennarusselluk you were all amazing. Go see!!
Will I like it?
Yes, you will. Okay, if you’re looking for soul-churning tragedy or an epic battle for the future of a kingdom, this isn’t going to float your boat. Instead this thrives by reminding us of our friends, of their importance, of the chance nature of life, of memories. Amelia Bullmore’s script is full of enough wit to make you laugh out loud and it is an absolute treat to be able to see three of our finest stage actresses performing together in the West End.
Di And Viv And Rose is running at the Vaudeville Theatre until 23 May. You can book tickets though us here. For performances until 13 February, you can also book cut-price tickets through our promotion Get Into London Theatre.
Previous First Night Feature written by Charlotte Marshall when the production played at the Hampstead Theatre:
There are few things more complex than female friendships, but, as Amelia Bullmore proves in Di And Viv And Rose, this complexity makes for compelling viewing.
Di and Viv and Rose; three names that trip off the tongue far more easily than the women fit together themselves when we first meet the trio in their shabby halls of residence in 1983. Di is a sports fanatic, wedded to her tracksuit and lying to her mother about her sexuality. Viv is the serious, political archetype who “dresses like she’s from the war” and is dedicated to her study in a deeply unfashionable way for a student, while Rose is a ditzy idealist with a love of beautiful things and beautiful boys.
It is dreamy Rose who proves to be the glue that sticks them together, a bubbly ball of energy whose privileged country upbringing has left her with an eternally optimistic romantic view of life at humorous odds with the rest of her cynical northern counterparts.
From their first awkward meeting, Bullmore’s play paints a picture of their ever strengthening friendship over the course of the next 30 years; from their student days living through the everyday monotony of growing up together to middle age, when the glue may have become unstuck but is stubbornly refusing to be wiped away completely.
Tamzin Outhwaite, Gina McKee and Anna Maxwell Martin perfectly capture the intensity that relationships forged during the first years of freedom can bring. While their individual roles may sometimes border on cliché, there is a reason why a cliché is a cliché and there won’t be many women who don’t recognise snippets of their own friendships in Bullmore’s heart-warming drama, even if your own conversations aren’t quite so full of sparky wit.
Outhwaite is almost unrecognisable as Di, a no nonsense, uncomplicated softy whose life is kept in one piece by her friends when tragedy strikes, while McKee’s character is possibly the most intriguing; her tough exterior slowly chipping down to reveal a still driven but altogether more needy Viv. But it is Rose that the audience fall in love with. Maxwell Martin encapsulates the youth and energy of an 18 year old with the world at her feet in a vivacious performance, before the interval curtain comes up to reveal a slightly battered Rose, but one who still has a glint of magic in her eye.
It would be near impossible to be immune to the warmth radiating from this tender story. While it may have more twists and turns than an episode of EastEnders – and not all totally necessary – it’s an entertaining journey. And, for the record, McKee is bloody good at doing the robot.