Three contemporary goddesses of stage and screen – Tamzin Outhwaite as Di, Gina McKee as Viv and Anna Maxwell Martin as Rose – come together in this play about friendship. Penned by fellow actress stalwart Amelia Bullmore (Scott & Bailey, Sherlock, Brass Eye), it begins with the three women meeting as Freshers students in their nondescript northern university’s Halls of Residence.
It’s a typical case of three very different worlds colliding by the communal telephone. Despite – or perhaps because of – their contrasting characters, the girls form a close friendship – Di the instantly likeable London lesbian, Viv as the serious, politically aware intellectual from the north east, and Rose the sweet and promiscuous girl from a sheltered middle-class village. It’s the mid-eighties as the girls enter their new world, with the play based almost exclusively in their shabby but lovingly-decorated student house.
Anyone at uni in this era will be awash with nostalgia, from the classic posters adorning their walls and the cheap cider drinks to music from Prince, The Cure and Eurythmics. to name just a few. The narrative races along, revealing the girls’ hopes, dreams, foibles and, ultimately, their growing closeness and understanding of each other. When a devastating tragedy befalls Di, the tight bond they have formed is played out touchingly. But it’s soon time for them to move out of their little bubble world and embark on the big, bad world. Can their friendship stand the test of time and more challenges?
This is a complex play, full of comedy, warmth, frustration and tolerance – not to mention an emotional trip down memory lane. Guaranteed, you’ll want to call that close friend from Uni you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for an age as soon as you step out of the theatre.
Di and Viv and Rose runs until February 23rd at Hampstead Theatre, London, Box office 020 7722 9301
by Karen Hyland