[THEATRE and Physical Theatre/Theatre ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE ~ SA]
Rumpus Theatre, Sun 17 Jul.
Hooray! Adelaide has a new local theatre company: The Corseted Rabbits Collective. Their brief is to present female led projects about women’s lives.
Di and Viv and Rose by British actor and writer Amelia Bullmore is their first production. The play looks at the friendship of three women who meet and bond as 18-year-old uni students sharing a flat.
The first of two acts is set in 1980’s Britain and the second takes place in various settings and time periods. Act 1 looks at the forging of the three characters’ bonds as they embrace the freedoms of student life and living in a share house. Audience members clearly identified with aspects of this section judging from the chuckles.
The second act looks at how these three women adjust to post student life and how friendship changes over time with long distance and infrequent contact. The audience is left to ponder what it takes to be a good friend.
Mark Oakley’s lighting design and the use of simple projections to advise us of the passing of years or of a new location stops any confusion for the audience. Meg Wilson’s simple set and costume selections are also noteworthy in the way they underpin the aging of the cast. The use of a draped sheet to represent a protective cocoon is especially effective.
Rachel Burke directs the play and has the cast make the most of the witty elements within the script. Some clowning antics and exuberant dancing in one section feels overly long and adds little to the plot or characterisation.
The acting chops of the cast – Julia Vosnakis as Di, Georgia Laity as Viv, and Isabel Vanhakartan as Rose – are impressive. Choosing to highlight the various social class and geographical differences between the three characters through their varied but distinctive British accents could have been problematic, but the accents are well maintained and nuanced throughout, and all three are vivid and relatable characters. If a little two dimensional and stereotypical this is perhaps in keeping with the slightly ‘sit com’ tone of the script.
With a running time of 2½ hours this is a long play. Big issues are raised but the script does not mine them as much as they could have been given the length of the performance.
Despite these reservations this was an enjoyable play and an audience should find many things to identify with and reflect upon. And The Corseted Rabbits Collective shows great promise judging by this production and deserves to be supported. So too does Rumpus Theatre and the steps they have taken to make this an inclusive and accessible theatre experience.
Di and Viv and Rose continues at Rumpus Theatre, Bowden, at various times, until Sun 24 July.
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