I wish that playwright Amelia Bullmore had found a less obvious way of delivering the tragedy in this tragicomedy. To reveal her device would spoil the plot but it jars because, in most other respects, her warm and witty comedy about three women defies expectation.
Contrasting characters Di (Tamzin Outhwaite), Viv (Gina McKee) and Rose (Anna Maxwell Martin) meet in 1983 at university. Although Anna Mackmin’s terrifically performed production stays largely within the walls of their rented house, it still convincingly evokes the fun and crises of student life. But there are deep undercurrents to the sitcom-style set-up, and what Bullmore depicts so well is a kind of female fellowship that has no equivalent among men.
The three leads ask their audience to suspend a lot of disbelief when playing 18-year-old students. But this tale of muddling through is so beautifully told, and the segue from comedy to tragedy so delicately achieved, that the audience is willing to play along. (www.hampsteadtheatre.com)