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A CurtainUp London Review
Di and Viv and Rose
Anna Maxwell Martin is the ditsy, insecure Rose, whose death in the Second Act is from a road accident rather than AIDs. A sexually transmitted disease is what she deserves to die from with her promiscuous lifestyle and conversations about her vagina which she calls her “va”, at one point fanning her fanny (English for vagina), knees apart on the sofa in the communal living room. Rose is an idiote sexuelle as she sleeps with anyone who asks her and finds that men will sleep with her when she asks them to, which she does all the time. She is unable to finish her university degree because she is pregnant with twins and has to go back home to live with her mother and stepfather.
Gina McKee as serious minded Viv, described by Rose as the one who dresses “like the war” in formal frocks is a sociologist studying the oppression of the corset and will land on her feet with a well paid job in New York after writing to an American feminist writer. Tamzin Outhwaite, unrecognisable after her stunning performance as Charity Valentine, plays quirky Di, the sporty Lesbian who hasn’t told her mum about her sexual orientation.
There will be an audience which finds this play adorable and funny but I think it needed more work, more shaping, more editing. The dramatic shifts from a post rape scene of sisterly support to the death of Rose did not affect me because I didn’t believe or empathise with the characters so these life changing events didn’t leave the sting they should have. The dance scene, where the three fling themselves around to The Cure and collapse laughing, obviously pleased most of the audience and there will be those who can relate to this era and the life long bonds you can form with those you lived with in your late teens and early twenties. The rest of us have moved on.
The early scenes to introduce the characters are a series of cut scenes on a trio of black cut out frames, each jokey and a little bit like watching a stand up comedy routine. This story board approach applies to the whole production and seems set piece rather than organic. In the second half, over 27 years we see them coming together for reunions, a funeral and splitting up. The three actors work very hard but Anna Mackmin’s direction doesn’t credibly convey the passing of time and Bullmore’s play didn’t convey for me an understanding of female bonding.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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