Some plays are like old friends. They don’t try to dazzle you, or overwhelm you. They get under your skin tenderly and quietly. They tease memories and melodies. Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose, as directed by Anna Mackmin for the Hampstead theatre, is such a play.
Which is not to say it is quiet or timid. The story starts with three young women experiencing university life for the first time. And no teenage girl has ever been quiet. The production is full of noise and music and late night energy. It talks about the truths – true loves, true laughter, true fights – we discover when we let our guard down.
The play impresses with its simplicity. Three women meet, become friends, laugh a lot, spend the next twenty years shaping each other’s lives. And then you realise the play is a rarity: Continue reading
Adrian Scarborough as George Tesman and Sheridan Smith as Hedda Gabler. Photo Johan Persson
Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic, with Sheridan Smith in the title role, was always destined to be a much talked production: a successful star in a famous and demanding role is catnip for the media: I expect that, come Thursday morning, the headline “Is Sheridan Smith’s Hedda a hit?” will show up in the papers – hopefully in the front page. But theatre isn’t meant to be a test, and without a hint of nervousness or acknowledging the expectations, this production, directed with huge confidence by Anna Mackmin, bypasses the media hype and does what great theatre should do: it’s thrilling, visceral and fresh.
I ‘ll start with the set (designed by Lez Brotherston), partly because it’s the first thing we see: multiple glass panels and huge windows, they create depth but also give out a bottomless feeling, like if someone could fall into this world and never manage to come up for air. First scene, at night, Hedda silently stalks the house like a ghost and admittedly, this made me a bit nervous: I am not a big fan of additional scenes bolted at the beginning of a play, seemingly for the star to appear first. But soon it became clear I had nothing to be nervous about: the production, as well as beautiful to look at (the costumes alone are a marvel), brings this world alive and makes you look at it with fresh eyes. Continue reading