Phil Willmott

West End hit Comedy to be Revived on the London Fringe

Robyn Hoedemaker We asked director Robyn Hoedemaker to tell us what excites her about the play Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore. It runs Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sundays 4pm at the White Bear Theatre until 16th Feb 2019

Di and Viv and Rose follows three women as they ‘shoot up together’. We see them laugh, we see them dance and we see them cry. It is this delicate and honest portrayal of what female friendship is really like and that attracted me to the text.

Unlike nearly every other play I’ve read, this piece does not revolve around men, and yet it is not so exclusively ‘female’, ‘feminine’ or ‘feminist’ as to exclude a male audience. Each of these women is so relatable to all spectrums of audience that Bullmore’s writing almost transcends gender. As a director I am committed to championing female representation on stage, but when I read this play I was overwhelmed by it’s honesty and inclusiveness. The play does not shy away from delicate themes, yet in no way does it exclude. It simply manages to entertain, delight and enthral.

The fact that it is almost an entirely female cast and crew production has also significantly appealed to me. It is a sad reality that the current status of theatre in the UK highly underrepresents the female voice; at our National Theatre female playwrights made up only 28% of content by living writers in 2017/18. Not only is this the case in terms of programming plays by female writers, but also the number of non-male characters on the UK stage is hugely disparate to the real-life stats. Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose, however, begs to differ.

This is a play written by a woman, about women and directed by a women, but I have seen audiences giggle, cry and hold hands in the face of this production no matter what their identity. Isn’t that the point of ending gender disparity?

Overall what thrills and satisfies me the most is knowing that we’ve brought a beautiful and important piece theatre to life in a way that truly makes an impact. One audience member completely unbeknownst to me left this wonderful feedback after watching the production:

“Tonight I went to see an amazing play. It made me laugh. It made me dance. It made me sing. It made me cry and it made me live. It’s intimate but still a rollercoaster of emotions. So glad I could make it… it reminds me how a good play can feed your soul."

It is a delight to know that we’ve affected someone so deeply.

I believe this is why we make theatre.