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Di and Viv and Rose review at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough – ‘moving take on the importance of friendship’

Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Polly Lister and Grace Cookey-Gam in Di and Viv and Rose at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. Photo: Tony Bartholomew Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Polly Lister and Grace Cookey-Gam in Di and Viv and Rose at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. Photo: Tony Bartholomew
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From its opening scene, at a northern university’s hall of residence during the early 1980s, to its close in 2010, a simple, strong thread runs through Amelia Bullmore’s drama and the upheavals in the lives of her characters.

It’s the friendship that has brought together this gawky, and seemingly incompatible, trio of female students – the bookish and serious Viv (Grace Cookey-Gam), sporty Di (Polly Lister) and the sexually voracious, albeit strangely vulnerable, Rose (Margaret Cabourn-Smith).

The skill of Bullmore’s script, and this Stephen Joseph Theatre production, is the way it picks away at what friends are, why friendship endures or falls apart, and how vital it is to life.

In the hands of a lesser writer, this mismatched group could have been the springboard for an odd trio, rather than odd couple, comedy of misunderstanding. But while Bullmore’s script is funny – the unworldly Rose mistaking the hall of residence’s microwave for a telly, in one scene – her characters are fully formed, and seem familiar, even before the first act draws to a close.

Under Lotte Wakeham’s direction, all three cast members convince. We see how the insecurities of their young selves (every one, it seems, has some major issue nagging away at them) go on to shape their later lives.

It’s poignant as we flip forward through the decades – punctuated by an upbeat pop soundtrack, including Spandau Ballet, the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams – to see these young, eager students move towards middle age.

The simple, albeit effective, design sums it up. A series of taped-up cardboard boxes sit, unopened, on the set throughout the performance, as if the magic of their university years has moved about with them ever since.

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Humorous, moving take on the importance and endurance of friendship