Aged eighteen, three women join forces at university. Life is fun. Living is intense. Together they feel unassailable.
Di and Viv and Rose is a funny and thoughtful exploration of friendship's impact on life and life's impact on friendship.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Manager||Janice Halsey|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Di Coates and Emily Goodden|
|Lighting Design||Thomas Hall|
|Sound Design||Howard Alston|
|Lighting Operation||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Sound Operation||Tasmin Halford|
|Set Design||Emily Goodden|
|Set Construction||Julie Burt-Wood|
|Set Decoration||Pete Woodward|
|Flyer Design||Dan Finch|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Photography||Sarah and John Ash|
|F of H Manager||Zoe Chapman|
Friendship. The Family that you choose. Friends are some of the most important people that we meet in our life and it was nice to find a play that celebrate those relationships because hopefully that is a universal theme that most of us can relate to.
Having rather indulged myself a little too much with my last couple of directed pieces I set out to find a piece that would once again allow some great, meaty roles for our wonderful actresses and stumbled across this play. Not only was it a funny all female cast piece, which met a lot of my criteria, but it offered a great challenge to both the cast and the director. To portray these characters across multiple decades, to show them growing from girls to women without swapping out the cast.
The writer suggests casting performers at the older end of the characters range as it's easer for someone to remember what it was like being eighteen than to get an eighteen-year-old to imagine what it would be like to be forty! So, this was something I very much wanted to try.
Naturally the play offers a chance for nostalgia as well which seems to be an 'in' thing at the moment. From the music, the costumes, the props, we wanted to try and capture the spirit of the time that each scene is set in. But not to let it take over as this isn't a play that is especially interested in the time, it's interested in the people over time.
I've been lucky enough to have some friends that have grown up alongside me since school and there is definitely a very special feeling when I'm with those people. They've seen me as a child, as a teenager and finally as what might be loosely described as a man. They knew me back when I had hair! There's almost no one alive who remembers that now!!! We've known each other through marriage, divorce, birth, death. We may not see each other all the time but when we come together there's a comfort and ease to the friendship which is a wonderful feeling. And this play allows you to see what a friendship like that can be like over the years.
It's heart-breaking at times and hilarious too. Just like life itself.
But ultimately this is a play that celebrates friendship and we should celebrate these people who for whatever reason choose us as the people they want as part of their life. If you think about it, that's a fairly humbling thing. They've chosen you…for life! So enjoy your friends and enjoy the play too!
As ever I've been lucky enough to have a cast and crew who have made my job so much easier and have spent so much energy to bring this play to the stage. My gratitude as always.
Also, I am ever thankful for you the audience. With so many ways to entertain ourselves these days you've chosen to come and support local theatre. We literally could not do this without you. You are our lifeblood and we at the Bench are eternally grateful. Thank you.
Mark Wakeman (Director)
What a cracker of a play – and under Wakeman's thoughtful direction, the cast of three give a cracker of an evening's entertainment.
It's not original in its concept – it follows three women who meet at university, who grow together, who experience life and who both love and – at times – despise one another.
Bullmore's dialogue is superbly crafted and sits so comfortably in the mouths of the three performers that, at times, you could forget you're watching actors at work. Bullmore pulls no punches, either, with her text which takes us into some very dark and dangerous waters – as well as stretching the English language to its ultimate boundary. That said, it is also hilarious.
Jo Langfield (of whom I am a very big fan indeed) is Rose, the posh girl who discovers the opposite sex and makes it her personal mission to make sure they discover her. Liz Donnelly has the trickiest job as Viv; her character is the most subtle of the three, but Donnelly charts her course through the character well, shining particularly in her argument with Angie McKeown's Di at the end of the show.
There is not a weak link here – all three performers are wonderful – and it's a performance that deserves to be seen.
I suspect, like me, you'll love it.