Review: The life-celebrating comedy we need right now

Di and Viv and Rose
Mayfair Theatre
Wednesday, November 18

Three very different young women come together in their first euphoric days at a student hostel.

Embracing new-found freedoms, they develop an unlikely friendship that survives, sometimes buoyant and sometimes battered, over the succeeding decades.

The highs, like getting a dream job, and the birth of twins, are wonderful; the lows are awful.

Along the way there are laughs, quarrels, music, energetic dancing and lots of alcohol.

Plays about female friendship are not uncommon and this one, by Amelia Bullmore, is more than a little formulaic, but its wit and crowd-pleasing ability made it a hit in London several years ago.

Its best aspect is its engaging characters, each with a distinctive way of taking charge of her own life.

Di is a sporty lesbian, Viv works hard at her sociology studies and is the most academically and professionally ambitious of the three, and Rose, discriminatingly and cheerfully promiscuous, loves to cook.

The New Zealand premiere (and New Zealand’s first fully professional, full-length dramatic production since Covid-19 closed theatres earlier this year) has been produced by Fusion Productions and is directed by Stephanie McKellar-Smith.

Strong performances by Jodie Dorday (Viv) and local performers Lara Macgregor (Di) and Julie Edwards (Rose) propel the action from 1983 to 2010, and the costumes, by Sheila Horton, take us from the leg-warmers and student tat of the early scenes to the more fashionable sophistication of the later ones. Hair styles evolve similarly.

Right now many of us could do with a warm, life-celebrating comedy, and Di and Viv and Rose meets this need admirably.

On opening night the Mayfair Theatre was nearly full, and the mostly female audience clearly engrossed. Strong language and a plot development involving sexual violence, however, may make the production unsuitable for some people.

The short Dunedin season runs until Sunday.

 

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