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Di and Viv and Rose at Hampstead Theatre

February 3, 2013

I had high hopes for this play. Great cast – Tamzin Outhwaite and Gina McKee -, lovely intimate theatre and good subject matter – female friendship. But it let me down.
The cast were great, but the script was all dialogue but no substantive narrative.
It opened in 1983 halls of residence in a University Up North where these three met – one an open, puppy-like home counties gal who shagged like a badger as soon as she was unleashed from the chains of home; another a sporty lesbian Londoner and the third a repressed working class Geordie. We watch them at various points as they meet until 2010.
It didn’t matter that the actors were in their thirties playing eighteen year olds, what mattered was that their story wasn’t properly explored. Events happened, relationships changed but without us having a real grasp as to why. They were three women with unusual attitudes to men (see above plus the repressed one marries her male gay friend), and we never really get to understand their characters and their relationships in a rounded sense.
There are moments of hilarity and moments of real anguish played superbly, but they were spread out between scene changes that were made part of the action, an occasional mis-placed speech on mysogeny or the meaning of life and trite conversations that last only two or three sentences so have no real depth,emotion or resonance.
The costumes just missed -the repressed Geordie apart as she was meant to look individual and odd – but the other two didn’t make me think -oh yes, I remember that! And similarly, a fear of AIDS was not commonplace in 1983 so the anachronism jarred.
It left me thinking it was a sixth form co-operative that had written it rather than an experienced hand. Two and a half stars,

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