Saturday, January 22

Di and Viv and Rose

- October 2, 2021

Friendship, that most challenging or relationships in my view, finding the friend, balancing that relationship, the level of love of expectation and of forgiveness. Where does it start and where does it go? Di and Viv and Rose is a play that investigates all of this and more. Thrown together at university these three are not exactly predictable allies. Di is a matter of fact young woman, prepared to work hard at life whilst dealing with her new found freedom and her until this point hidden homosexuality. She is every inch the sporty lesbian and whilst some may view this presentation as a stereotype I am confident that an equal number will say that they know someone who fits that stereotype perfectly. Sophie Dearlove captures the character with ease, the blunt charm, the gung-ho suffer no fools bravado that actually masks the frailty of a young woman coming to terms with being away from home for the first time and the crazy lottery of finding love. Di is the common denominator in this threesome, the glue that brings together and keeps together this mismatched trio and Sophie Dearlove is perfect in the role.

Di is sharing her student all digs with Rose. Rose is posh, very posh and as dippy as a very dippy thing. She is also needy and satisfies that need with rampant promiscuity, eight boys in two weeks, all with different ‘things’ to satisfy he ‘va’! She needs to be needed and gradually you realiase why. Mandy Jane Jackson gives her all to this portrayal, a bubbling pot of hormonal awakening, of naive attitudes to men and her innocent belief that the priveleges she has been born with are not commonplace. She also gradually reveals that life at home was no field of sunflowers either, her background is damaged and disfunctional and she is the product of that.

Di brings together Rose with the rather more serious Viv, their neighbour. Viv is the solid student, totally focused on why she is there, totally formed in the way she presents herself to the world. Emmie Spencer has the gravitas to pull this off and she really looks right in the role of a girl who Rose describes as ‘dressing like it’s the war’. And she does, stern shoes, vintage frocks and victory rolls, and her clipped Scottish tones add a sense of primness.

I don’t think I was alone in recognising all three of these young woman and I certainly recognised the tensions and the joys and the disappointments of this burgeoning life-long friendship.

And so they set off on a journey that takes them through university to adulthood and explores how those friendships develop and change. Amelia Bullmore’s script is dense and deep, the characterisations are well observed and the first half is packed with humour, and it is directed by Claire Lewis with a frenetic energy that makes it bounce along with excellent comic timing that belies the truths and the tensions to come. The whole is tender, moving and delivered with disarming humour and director and cast have done a splendid job, by the second half I had become a part of that friendship, liking each of the girls equally, accepting their faults and their foibles as they set off on their adult lives and what is about to happen.

No spoilers here, go see it and enjoy a great play at one of the cities real treasures – New Venture Theatre.

Andrew Kay

New Venture Theatre

1 October

Rating: ★★★★★

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