Rosemary Bamford was the Senior Drama Lecturer in my Honours year. We grasped at her take on Feminism and explored iconic plays, amongst them Pam Gems‘ work. Today I sent a little ‘Thank you’ up to Rosemary, when the lights dipped low and I was sitting in the darkened theatre, waiting for the play to begin. I had forgotten what an intimate experience good theatre always is.
I had been away too long. Di and Viv and Rose, currently on at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand, is a play about three woman, united during their days at University, and the friendship that takes them from the eighties, to 2010. Tamzin Outhwaite is Di, sporty and a lesbian, in a time when even telling one’s parents you prefer other women is difficult, if not impossible. Viv, played by Samantha Spiro, is driven by her past to succeed, at times inflexible, militant and often frustrated by the frivolous Rose, played by Jenna Russell, who lives for the moment – sexually liberal and eager to please.
The witty banter and refreshing dialogue of being young and ‘besties’ carries the pace of the play through some darker moments, but it is in the second Act that these grown up women face the reality of a harsher life. Would they have done things differently, did they imagine they would end up where they did, how to deal with broken dreams – these are themes we all explore. Ultimately it is their friendship, tested at times, but enduring, that will give them the courage to move forward. All the elements of a tragi-comedy. Of our lives.
And I remembered how one can be drawn to the stage, to the platform, like all the Arts, to be transported from our own lives for a few hours, and give us respite from our daily plodding. Insight into the lives of others, and the universal themes that bind us all.
Performances brilliantly delivered. Clever use of set design. Rosemary would have been proud.
Di and Viv and Rose is on until the 23rd May and if you are in search of a heartwarming experience, try to meet these special women.
pic c/o The Guardian