Di and Viv and Rose is a story of enduring friendship. Playwright Amelia Bullmore decided to write it in 2009 when she realised how much she missed an old friend. The feeling was so powerful that it inspired her to write a piece about the profundity of female friendships and the importance of these long-standing relationships. We chose it as part of our programme this year because it really resonated with us and we believe we have what it takes to do it justice.
Performance and Reception
Originally performed downstairs at the Hampstead Theatre in 2011, this play received rave reviews including the Guardian describing it as “impossible not to like”. It was directed by Anna Mackmin and stared Nicola Walker, Claudia Blakley and Tamzin Outhwaite. In 2013, it was moved upstairs at the Hampstead Theatre with some cast changes before moving to the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End in 2015, again with a slightly different cast - however Tamzin Outhwaite remained in all three casts. Sadly, the run was cut short by two months at this venue despite all the glowing reviews and positive audience responses. The show’s producers said, “the West End can be an unpredictable place and transferring a new play has its risks.” Fortunately, the rights to perform the play became available to other theatre groups shortly after and it has been performed widely ever since.
Amelia Bullmore was inspired to write this play after seeing a woman who had calves just like her friend’s. The yearning she felt to see that friend was something she wanted to try to capture in this play along with the delight she felt at seeing another friend pull a stunt that made her roar with laughter. Apparently, she was meeting her friend at a train station and, while scanning the crowd for her, spotting a couple snogging. At second glance, she realised it was actually her friend pretending to snog a statue to make her laugh. She didn’t want it all to be frivolous jokes and fun though, as she wanted it to reflect real life friendships that have ups and downs. Although she appreciates the friendship of men, she felt there was something special about the friendships of women and the way they share stories of other people’s lives and how they affect their own. Condensing all of this, including a 30 year friendship, into a two hour play was a challenge but we feel that Bullmore rose to it admirably.
Why we Chose to Perform it?
It isn’t just the success of Bullmore’s writing that drew us to perform this piece. The profundity of female friendships is something that resonates with us as a predominantly female company and we are always on the lookout for plays with interesting and substantial parts for women (a much harder task than it should be in the 21st century!). Sandra saw this play and was keen to direct it as it immediately pulled her in to the characters and their lives. She thought it would suit our actors and our intimate space at the Lamb.