Sir David Hare is notoriously political and provocative in his writing, and Amy’s View is no exception. Written in 1997, this play absolutely resonates today, addressing women’s roles, ponzi schemes, financial manipulation, and the never-ending question “How does an era determine the relevance and appropriation of its ‘art’?” Spanning several decades, the play focuses on three generations of the Thomas family women, their struggles, successes and survival. Hare's personal bias is prominent in the ‘art versus technology bent.’
Through Esme Allen, (the British theatre icon played by Linda Kelsey), he pits his knowledge and appreciation of the art of theater against the more modern view of popular media and filmmaking (represented by her son in law and popular theatre critic), and it inevitably leaves us with negative connotations towards trends in technology based entertainment.
Park Square Theatre has produced a lovely, thought provoking, rendition of this charmingly funny, yet caustic drama. Director, Gary Gisselman, expertly handles the myriad of themes while keeping things grounded in relatable realism. The actors are comfortable in their roles and relationships, as well as their London accents.
I found the three women the highlight of the show. Evelyn Thomas (Cathleen Fuller) the aging paternal grandmother, Esme Allen, the superstar aforementioned mother, and Amy Thomas (Tracey Maloney) the overshadowed “fixer” of a daughter, provide the emotional depth, and empathy in the story. This trifecta of female strength and complexity is a credit to Hare’s writing, but also these awesome actors, who deliver their performances with care and attention. Mother/daughter relationships are hard enough to navigate in real life and these gals do a wonderful and authentic job recreating it on stage. My only complaint would be the constant disagreement over Amy’s lover- -then husband-then ex, Dominic (played by Gabriel Murphy).
Nearer the end of the play, after Amy and Dom’s marriage is on the rocks and it’s discovered (spoiler alert) that he’s been cheating on her, Amy and Esme are still fighting about whether or not he’s worthy of Amy. Amy is chastising her mother for “never giving Dom a chance,” that there was a time he was “funny and real.” The problem is, after 20 plus years seeing glimpses of these characters, I, like Esme, didn’t see that. Dominic is always demeaning and condescending and treats Amy pretty terribly, I never viewed him as a sympathetic character so this pivotal scene between the two women unfortunately falls flat. He does seem to have a bit of a “come to Jesus” moment at the end of the play as he confronts Esme in her dressing room. He admits to his shortcomings and finally shows some humanity and humility. Amy isn’t there to witness this, but her feelings for Dom have never wavered, this gesture is solely for Esme and it’s a beautiful, resolute final moment honestly played by Ms. Kelsey.
The set is functional and aesthetic. I appreciate the skeletal porch/greenhouse area that creates lovely lighting silhouettes into, and out of, the house. The multi-generational timeline is represented well in period adjusted costumes and set dressings and the upbeat and catchy music spans the decades in a clever, toe tapping way. Again, I tend to be a stickler for accents and this crew does a great job at keeping things locally appropriate and consistent, and James Rodriguez, the starstruck Toby Cole, is a scene stealer in his 10 minutes on stage at the end of the show. Amy’s View is playing through this first weekend in June. I strongly suggest you try to fit it into your week. It leaves you wanting to discuss these hot topic issues. Unfortunately, last minute, I flew solo, so if you find yourself in need of a talking partner...let me know!