Hampstead Theatre, London

Theatre review: Di and Viv and Rose - Anyone fancy a girls' night in?

Amelia Bullmore's funny, filthy dialogue propels three old mates through the highs and lows of friendship

So, when shall we do this again? It's the question three female friends, who bond at university, keep asking – fondly or bitterly or mournfully – as the decades pass in Di and Viv and Rose. Starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Gina McKee and Tamzin Outhwaite, Amelia Bullmore's new tragicomedy charts how their platonic love stands the test of time, starting in 1983 when they meet as freshers.

Maxwell Martin's Rose is an eager beaver, prone to faux pas and open-hearted. She's keen to play house and cook for the other two when they move into off-campus digs, plonking a ghetto blaster in one corner, draping a silk scarf over a standard lamp, and putting up Picasso and Man Ray posters.

Without seeing the evidence, the audience soon gleans that Rose is developing a voracious sexual appetite, out on the town. She insists it's her free choice, sleeping with guys who tickle her fancy, although her promiscuity is needy and dangerous in McKee's opinion. Her Viv, a sociology student, guards her privacy and studies hard, determined to seize the career opportunities open to her generation. Meanwhile, Outhwaite's Di is an affable, sporty lesbian, with monogamous instincts.

More than just rub along, the trio forms a supportive sisterhood, helping each other through traumatic experiences, not least a sexual assault and single parenting. Nevertheless, as their paths diverge, they don't share enough and one of them nurses resentments.

Bullmore's dialogue is often very funny, especially in the case of Rose's blithely explicit chatter. Some speeches feel pasted in, though, such as Viv's feminist mini-lectures, and the off-stage characters never quite come into focus. Further script development might have honed the storytelling which sometimes rambles, sometimes races.

Anna Mackmin's production needs more sharp-eyed detailing yet admirably takes rapid-fire scenes in its stride, with snappy lighting and bursts of vibrant Eighties pop, from The Cure's "Love Cats" to Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill".

One may balk at actresses in their thirties and forties playing teens, but that largely ceases to matter given the ball the cast is clearly having, dancing drunkenly and somersaulting on to sofas. The roles also offer emotional range, McKee losing her cool in grief and fury, Outhwaite becoming startlingly moving, after some perfunctory swaggering.

Oscar Wilde's bosom buddy proves less reliable in The Judas Kiss (Duke of York's Theatre, London), a revival transferring to the West End from Hampstead Theatre. Yes, the clue's in the name of David Hare's biodrama, and, historically, "Bosie", aka the young Marquess of Queensberry, has been portrayed as a feckless upper-class brat who, undeservedly adored, was Wilde's downfall.

The renowned playwright and wit was, of course, notoriously tried for sex crimes: accused of sodomy by Bosie's homophobic pater and slammed in Reading Gaol. In Neil Armfield's production, we see Freddie Fox's Bosie flicking back his blond hair and leaving Rupert Everett's Wilde in the lurch, twice. In Act I, Oscar's arrest is imminent yet Bosie persuades him not to flee the country – only to scarper himself when the police arrive. In Act II, Everett – out of prison and living in destitute exile – is reunited with his beloved merely to be ditched again.

Fox contrives to make Bosie mercurially complex: a selfish cad yet ardently clingy, feverishly imagining that Oscar might one day publicly defend the love that has not, hitherto, dared to speak its name. Everett, in turn, demonstrates that Wilde's insouciant manner was partly a mask. Reclining in a chair, he quips eloquently as he awaits his fate but keeps gazing into the auditorium with an obvious sense of doom. Despite having attracted some rave notices, this is not a truly great performance. What's more, the eye-candy extras striking nude poses in this staging seem too much of a calculated titillation.

It's harder to resist the Seventies African-American romcom by Don Evans, One Monkey Don't Stop the Show (Tricycle Theatre, London). Staged with bounce by the touring company Eclipse, it fully lives up to its billing as Restoration comedy crossed with The Cosby Show. Rebecca Scroggs's Beverley is a country girl lodging with prim, bourgeois relatives in the city. She sets her heart on a streetwise rover, Clifford Samuel's Caleb, who is more smitten than he wants to admit.

Too bad that director Dawn Walton gets the production off to a shaky start, setting up expectations of constant laughs by presenting it as a TV sitcom with canned applause. Some of the acting is too self-consciously cartoony, especially Jocelyn Jee Esien as an uppity Mrs Malaprop type, cocking her leg as she pours tea. By contrast, Scroggs and Samuel are charmingly funny, ending in a rumpled huff when trying to share a bed without hanky-panky. Only gradually does it emerge that the characters' soliloquies are building into a thoughtful panorama of post-Sixties sexual mores.

'Di and Viv and Rose' (020-7722 9301) to 23 Feb; 'The Judas Kiss' (0844 871 7623) to 6 Apr; 'One Monkey Don't Stop the Show' (020-7328 1000) touring to 16 Mar

Critic's Choice

Cheek by Jowl embarks on its latest UK tour, boldly staging Alfred Jarry's scatological Ubu Roi in French, with subtitles, at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (Wed-Sat). The Silence of the Sea is an intimate portrait of a Nazi officer lodging with resistant French locals, based on the underground novel by Jean Bruller, who used the code name Vercors. It gets a taut dramatisation, starring Finbar Lynch and Leo Bill, at London's Trafalgar Studios (to Sat).

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...