Di and Viv and Rose

Beth Carr reviews The Student Workshop’s first production of the term.

Upon reading the synopsis for Di and Viv and Rose, it became impossible to resist buying a ticket and heading to see it. Following three girls from the beginning of their friendship at university into adulthood and the changes it brings, the Student Workshop’s rehearsal room production brought the story to life intimately. With only 35 seats at each performance, the audience is sucked into the drama and humour of the lives of the three characters, and it is hard to imagine the play being performed in any other way.

Putting three unknown first years in the spotlight was a risk that paid off and each reflected the different personalities of the characters with ease. To the women watching, as well as I hope the men, each was relatable in a different way. First, ditzy Rose who sees the world as a beautiful place with a carefree attitude and love for all – a feeling most university freshers experience, especially with our very own breathtaking Founders building. Then there is Viv who “dresses like it’s the war”, seemingly more of a loner with an intense work ethic and a splash of passive aggression, although mellowing as she becomes closer to her housemates. Finally we have Di, who has a lot of time to devote to her friends while still being matter-of-fact and a moral compass. Her sexuality is played on a lot in the play too, reflecting changing attitudes towards lesbianism and providing a contrast to promiscuous Rose.

The focus on women in the production is by no means an accident: director Lizzy Fretwell specifically chose the play for its depiction of strong, complex female characters. Featured in 100 Great Plays for Women by Lucy Kerbel, Amelia Bullmore’s writing certainly fits into this category and it is not surprising that all bar one of the production team are female and all enthusiastic about the project. With many plays still being male focused, it was certainly refreshing to watch something entirely about female friendship and the challenges it brings. Watching their lives play out and their circumstances change dramatically over the years of their friendship was captivating, particularly with the unexpected twists in the story that left very few dry eyes in the room.

This production genuinely surpassed my expectations and with such perfect execution, I cannot give it any less than 5 stars. But although this production run has ended, do not despair as there is much more to come from the Student Workshop this term, including Midnight at the Boilerhouse, which showcases the work of Drama and Creative Writing students and their main production Vernon God Little. Check out http://www.thestudentworkshoprhul.com/ for all the information and don’t miss the opportunity to see our fantastic Drama department in action for a fraction of the West End prices.

Photo credit: Chiemi Yamamoto/The Student Workshop