DI & VIV & ROSE bring life’s miniature triumphs and unavoidable mistakes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Allegra Marland and Georgie Oulton
Name of Edinburgh show: Di & Viv & Rose (in an hour)
Venue: C Cubed, Main Space
Performance time: 5.55pm
Show length: 2nd-14th August
Ticket price: £6-£8.50

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
We are best friends and actors who set up Handmade Theatre together in October 2017. We trained separately, at Mountview Academy and Central School of Speech and Drama and whilst in training we lived together for four years.

Since graduating Allegra has been in several plays at the Finborough Theatre (including After October and Cyril’s Success) and has stared in BBC ONE’S Father Brown as a guest lead, as well as the film Goodbye Christopher Robin. Georgie left drama school early to go on tour as Jane Fairfax in production exchange’s Emma. Louisa Harland, our third cast member, has recently stared as Orla in Channel 4’s Derry Girls and before that was in Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Friendship! Di and Viv and Rose (in an hour) follows three women as they rollercoaster their way through life and their struggles with sexuality, loss and all kinds of love. The play focuses on friendship’s impact on life, and life’s impact on friendship. Three women meet on their first day at University and the play spans the next 20 years of their lives. You will laugh and cry, but hopefully be left feeling uplifted and inspired, with a reconnection to the importance of friendship in your life.

This play is Handmade Theatre’s condensed version of Amelia Bullmore’s critically acclaimed ‘Di & Viv & Rose’ that premiered at The Hampstead Theatre in 2013. We are very excited to present this as our debut production as a company, as well as an Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
We have been working on this since October 2017 and it has been a passion project from the start. It all started with us wanting to generate more work for women in the industry, ourselves included. What led us to the play was the brilliant writing and the fabulous female roles. It is rare to find such nuanced and defined female characters that aren’t a side kick to a male part. The women are flawed and quirky but have real inner strength. They are independent despite adversity. Their passion for each other and ambitions for themselves are not curtailed by anyone else’s choices but themselves. We think this story will inspire other women to celebrate their originality and idiosyncrasies and encourage them not to feel like they have to ‘fit’ into other peoples pre-formed stereotypes. Women today are standing together in solidarity, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stand out as individuals too. We think this play looks at why both those things are vital parts of our identity.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Pace yourselves. There is so much to see and do that you can end up totally exhausted and sleeping through the shows.

This is our first Edinburgh as performers so we can only hope that our teamwork will set us in good stead. Luckily we are all best friends so working as a team and sticking together comes easily, which we think we will need when flyering especially. It also helps that we are endlessly passionate about the play and each other. The best bit about starting the company has been collaborating with amazing artists and finding the fun in it all, and we think this is a crucial part of the fringe, not to take it too seriously when you don’t need to.

We are lucky to have some very talented friends who are Edinburgh Fringe veterans; they have been really helpful in giving us tips for before, after and during the fringe too.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Allegra : Aside from wetting myself on stage during the nativity aged 5, I was once left alone on stage when another actor forgot to come on. So for 3 minutes (which felt like 3 years) I had to just make things up. I ended up saying the most stupid things and turning the sofa upside down whilst pretending I had ‘lost something’. Luckily that couldn’t happen in this show as we are onstage all the time.

Georgie: I was abandoned on stage as well once – mid-conversation, as my scene partner had to run off stage to be sick! I had to employ my improv skills in that moment which led to my character admiring the weather for about 2 minutes on stage alone… they must have thought I was mad. My trousers also split half way through a particularly physical scene once which meant my movement was limited to that of a cardboard cut-out in order to preserve my dignity… Lesson learnt – always where matching coloured underwear to your costume.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
The list is endless. Women like Lia Williams, Juliet Stevenson and Tamsin Greig are real heroes of ours because we think their work in the theatre is the very best. They choose such interesting roles in venues we love like The Donmar and Almeida Theatre. We love the cast of Big Little Lies because their determination to get that show made, with such fabulous people at the helm, is inspiring to see. We have found that it takes real drive to get work you care about made, especially in film and TV. We hope work with women in the foreground goes from strength to strength now. There are no more excuses!

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A long vocal warm up and a group hug. The play is very energetic, especially the first half, and is an emotional roller coaster so it is good to keep calm before and conserve energy.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
The Fringe is bursting with brilliant stuff this year, as always. We are excited to see Dug Out’s Hunch and Songlines, as well as “Even Hotter” which is Mary Higgins and Elle Potter’s verbatim play about life’s little embarrassments. Elf Lyons has been doing great stuff for years at Edinburgh and we’re excited to see what she is bringing this year too. We always love what Pleasance and Summerhall put on so we will be booking our tickets ASAP!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It is a good piece theatre, with a great story and high quality acting. Despite being about the lives of three young women the play has had a great response from men and women of all ages, because it is about growing up and growing old, what we hope for the future and the way we cling to the past. The women who have watched the show have definitely felt very moved by the story, and the characters journeys.

It is a play for everyone as Amelia’s play beautifully celebrates life’s miniature triumphs and unavoidable mistakes. We have strived to maintain Amelia’s genius for detail and intimacy, whilst focussing on the relationship between the women and the power of their friendship throughout a lifetime.


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