The Corseted Rabbits Collective. Rumpus. 16 Jul 2022
English actor/playwright Amelia Bullmore packs a lot of intellectually challenging, emotionally confronting material amidst downright fabulous, unashamed 80s pop culture layers in Di and Viv and Rose.
We’re offered a fly on the wall view of a 30 year friendship between three UK women who meet at university in 1983 and proceed to unpack old home life and live a new home life in what we in Australia call share housing.
It’s a tricky, cracking tragicomic text, littered with to die for lines belying a heady thread of gender politics, sexuality and polemic. Di, Viv and Rose’s journey is one birthing bursts of lightning bright epiphanies of understanding both shallow and profound, subsumed by the minutiae of messy ordinary life. So it seems.
Bullmore’s writing challenges Director Rachel Burke and cast Julia Vosnakis (Di), Georgia Laity (Viv) and Isabel Vanhakartano (Rose) to work the innately dark/light structure of the text in such a way its comedic elements do not overwhelm, but delicately highlight the seriousness at the text’s heart.
Burkes’s direction, supported by Set Designer Meg Wilson’s austere grey wall set with offsets and pull on/off furnishings, and Technical Designer Mark Oakley’s projections ensures this balance is achieved in a mercurial relationship to the performances.
Filling the space with exceptionally taut character acting befitting outward expectations of a Classic Brit sitcom, (The Young Ones comes to mind,) Vosnakis, Laity and Vanhakartano communicate an extraordinary tension between funny and not funny; between ‘that’s life’, and ‘why should that be life’?
The characters seem 80s sitcom enough, initially. Di’s a sporty lesbian studying business. Viv’s a hard headed sociology student. Rose is an art history student big on sex.
Burke and ensemble use these character labels as launch pads to something more complex.
Complexities of being women relating to the world, complexities of women relating to women.
Burkes’ ensemble sets a cracking pace. Dropping comic lines as if they weren’t with extraordinary skill, subtly easing in and out of their characters’ label to reveal dark depths yet never losing the delightful, frothy thread of humour sustained in the text.
A seriously thought provoking production loaded with humour, intent and range well beyond an 80s cliché.
When: 15 to 24 July
Where: Rumpus - 100 Sixth Street Bowden