To the sound of bubblegum pop from a bygone era, three young women burst onto the stage, excited to be starting a new life together at university in 1980s Manchester.
Di & Viv & Rose (in an hour) by Amelia Bullmore, C Cubed (Venue 50) ****
Almost immediately, they are defined by what they’re wearing – by themselves, by writer Amelia Bullmore, by the audience. As the likeable group critique each other’s radically different outlooks, we are invited to categorise them as “types”: Rose, a girly, sex-obsessed people-pleaser; Di, sporty and gay; Viv, serious and studious.
It’s a clever device – one that highlights the way women are pigeonholed, but which is also used as shorthand for quickly establishing and then peeling away the personas each of the group has created for themselves.
Performers Louisa Harland, Allegra Marland and Georgie Oulton initially tap into the unfiltered energy of youth. However, in this abridged version of the original play (first published in 2011) time moves quickly – perhaps too quickly – as adult traumas replace unfettered optimism. While Fringe time slots are traditionally short, there is a feeling of splicing through the scenes, rather than adequate time and space to fully enjoy and appreciate them.
The decision to sit the audience on two sides of the stage doesn’t help with the sightlines, particularly when the performers sit on the ground, but luckily Bullmore’s witty dialogue allows you to follow, if not always literally see, what’s going on. The women’s exchanges also build up a rich array of unseen offstage characters – the partners and other lasting friends who inevitably get picked up along the way.
As time passes, whether or not any element of the three women’s original friendship will survive comes into question. But when change inevitably comes, we find that some bonds are able to survive personal tragedies, even if they morph into something different as a result.
• Until 14 August, 5:55pm