Left – Mandy McElhinney, Belinda McClory, Nadine Garner. Cover – Belinda McClory, Mandy McElhinney, Nadine Garner. Photos – Jeff Busby
Female friendship is a funny thing. Both complex, and nurturing we are often taught to be competitors yet grow to become each other’s greatest fans instead. At the very heart of Amelia Bullmore’s play is the enduring nature of female friendship and how vital it is in emotional development.
Three young women, from different sides of the UK are thrown together (as many of us are) during the hedonistic days of University. Bright and bubbly small town girl Rose (Mandy McElhinney) has a zest for life and true appreciation of men. Viv (Belinda McClory) is the intellectual and reserved contradiction to the vivacious Rose, yet these two opposites are bound together by the straight talking Di (Nadine Garner), the smart, sassy, dependable lesbian from North England.
Di and Viv and Rose transcends space and time through complex staging and audio visual effects which allows the narrative to flow and the actresses to remain the focus of the piece. The production is strongest in its opening act, when the characters are breathing in the endless possibilities of life, love and careers all to a killer 1980s soundtrack. It’s so easy to romanticise that special time between childhood and adult responsibilities, and Bullmore’s play and its director Marion Potts allow for decadent moments of nostalgia from the audience, a yearning for simpler times.
Di and Viv and Rose is filled with laughs from the opening sequence, laughs that can turn in to cringes as you realise you’ve been in that same predicament, and that’s why this play so is so much fun. The characters on stage are so loveable and so incredibly relatable.
There are darker moments too, and in these moments we witness the resilience of the female alliance, the strength each woman has independently and how powerful it can be when combined in moments of need.
The second act while still very strong, misses the mark from time to time, feeling ever so slightly clunky towards the end, however, perhaps that is the point. As life goes on and tragedies are faced, we age and all those never ending possibilities begin to fade, as “real life” takes focus.
And while the relationships between the women are forever altered, their love remains untarnished. The three leads Garner, McClory and McElhinney all turn out stellar performances about life, love and of course the unstoppable force that is Girl Power.
Melbourne Theatre Company presents
Di and Viv and Rose
by Amelia Bullmore
Director Marion Potts
Venue: Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
Dates: 12 August – 16 September 2017
Bookings: www.mtc.com.au | 03 8688 0800