Fiona Gruber chats to Amelia Bullmore about friendship, luck and the craft of playwriting.
Amelia Bullmore is sitting in her airy London kitchen, reminiscing about university.
‘I met people I’d never met before, experienced events I never would have been part of,’ she says.
She also experienced the sort of intense friendships she portrays in Di and Viv and Rose.
‘I wanted to write a play about friendship and I wondered if I could catch what it’s like to know and love people for a long time, in an hour and a half,’ she says.
It takes the lives of three young women who move in together, and follows them across the decades as they enter the adult world of careers and relationships and the dramas and traumas that life throws at them.
There’s an enchantment to the first friends we make when we’re away from home and in the early throes of adulthood, she continues. Life seems limitless and full of possibility, but there’s also no knowing how your life will unfold.
‘I’m fascinated by luck,’ says Bullmore; ‘we are at its mercy; for all that we think we can determine things, we are horribly at its mercy, even down to the fact of whether you’re made of rubber and glass. So even if the same things happen to you as to somebody else, it won’t impact in the same way.’
The women are very different; there’s happy-go-lucky Rose, who loves life and is, in Bullmore’s words, ‘merrily promiscuous’. There’s Viv, who’s a girl with a plan. ‘Sometimes actresses who play her don’t like her but I love her,’ she says.
And then there’s Di, who’s grounded, happy in her own skin and who can stretch out and find common ground with the other two, women who, without her, might never have found anything in common. ‘It’s Di who pulls them together,’ she explains.
Alongside her acting career, Bullmore is well known for her TV writing; has she ever been tempted to adapt it for the screen? I ask.
No, she says, it’s vitally important to see the actors as they play the women getting older, on a stage. ‘I’ve been asked to do it on TV, I’ve been asked to do it as a film, I’ve been asked to do it for radio and I’ve said no every time; a tiny part is ‘I’ve done that, I’ve written it, it’s over’, but most of it is, ‘it’s a play, it’s a play it’s a play.’’
Amelia Bullmore’s Di and Viv and Rose plays at Southbank Theatre from 12 August.
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