Di and Viv and Rose is the story of the friendship of three very different women as they live and work through hardships and grow as people together and blah blah blah you get the idea – except actually you don’t, because that simple premise massively undersells everything going on in this play and it’s very good and you should watch it. It’s a little jerky at the start and some of the plot developments at the end come slightly out of nowhere, but this production, directed by Ami Melville and produced by Annie Johnson and Kilda Kennedy, still made it all feel emotional and significant and compelling, and the characters felt very real and persuasive to me, which I feel like is basically everything you’re going for when making a play so idk what else is there to say guys pack up and go home review over.
But I do this stuff for fun – I get a sort of intense voyeuristic pleasure out of you people reading my writing – and there’s also a lot more that deserves to be said about this play. It’s heavily character-based, with its only characters being the eponymous Di and Viv and Rose, so it’s good that they’re all very well acted and that they get a bit more character depth and complexity than you’d expect at first glance. This is a play that improves as it goes on, as you become more invested in each character and as they themselves change. There’s Rose, played by Clara Curtis, who likes sex and also people in general, is kind and funny and caring and moving around quite a lot on stage and frequently leaning on the furniture, and happy with the simple things in life and just feeling close to people, and I think she’s very cool. Contrasted against her is Lila Ahnger’s uptight Viv, aiming high and sitting very prim and proper on the sofa and writing very earnestly (and unfortunately historically inaccurately) about the relative comfortableness of corsets and their role in enforcing the patriarchy in European history, and wearing ‘wartime clothing’ which in fact slays enormously like that green dress is so nice oh my god – and is actually full of strong emotions even if she isn’t as good at sharing them. She feels somehow intensely convincing and real. And then there’s Di, played by Tabby D’cunha, who is gay (Whoooo! Gay! Hell yeah!) and the person who initially brings Rose and Viv together. She acts as the emotionally mature one in the group, but has her own loves and her own horrific trauma. Her speech near the end of the play (and all of the acting towards the end of the play in my opinion) is incredibly impressive.
The lighting, done by Ava Pegg-Davies, is kept quite simple, and therefore stands out in the important scenes, like the emotional moments with a single white spotlight, and the memorable disco lighting as the three dance to what I think (after some research) is Let’s Go Crazy by Prince, and Viv slouches on the sofa for the first time and opens up a little. That song’s from the 80s, and I think the script of this play is supposed to be set in the 80s, but there isn’t very much tying it to that time period apart from landline telephones, and I think this production puts the story out of time or makes it timeless in quite a cool way – but I also didn’t personally live through the 80s, so I might have missed some deeply inherently 80s part of it. There is old-fashioned furniture but also Amazon delivery boxes, and alcohol comes in olive oil bottles, which I don’t think it did in the 80s. The set slowly grows with the three’s friendship, gaining new furniture and new clutter as they live together, and then shrinks as they move apart, but the characters all gain more clothes as it does so and as they grow independently as people, with Di gaining the most items of clothing – which she deserves for being the most relatable one and also gay.
This is just a good entertaining play – it doesn’t need to do anything big and fancy, and it tells a compelling story. I became way more attached to these three characters than I ever expected going into it and they genuinely began to feel real to me, which is testament to the great cast and production team. So go buy tickets now or something.
other erin (she/her)