Amy's View is the story of 16 years in the life and relationship of a mother and daughter. Covering the period from the end of the 1970s to the mid 1990s, the relationships are affected by the swings between idealism and commercialism.

Amy, played by Rebecca Lacey, has moved away from her mother's clearly bohemian home to make her own life. Her mother Esme (Susannah York) is an old school stage actress, long widowed but still doing well and full of life. With these two as the core characters, Amy's View is clearly a play for actresses, in fact David Hare tells us this several times in the script as "there are no good parts for women". The element of conflict is introduced through Dominic (Marcus D'Amico), a wannabe film director who finally pursues wealth and fame rather than his idealistic art roots.

Unusually, Hare has written this as a four-act play, though it is being performed in two acts with one interval. Each act skips us forward a number of years as we look at the changing relationships across the family and the challenged loyalties between people, ideals and real life.

The direction and acting also appear to change eras as the action transpires. The first two acts are distinctly below par. It may be that there are just too many words on the page as, at times, the actors seem to be in a race to get through the dialogue in the time available. Though there's a lot of acting up on stage, that's about all there is, as motivations for the movement and words isn't evident.

An exception is Antonia Pemberton's portrayal of the mother-in-law which is focussed, natural and controlled throughout. The second act also introduces the neighbour, Frank, played by Michael Jayston, who again provides a calming influence to the proceedings.

And in the final act, the writing, direction and acting at last come together. Esme has returned to the stage in triumph. Through Toby, a young actor played by Rod Hallett, we learn that her art has remained at the core of Esme's life, which otherwise has been all but destroyed. Reconciliation and hope are the themes, and the scene is understated and powerful.

The end result is an enjoyable play with characters that become believable. Still, I'd say that a bit more rehearsal time would have helped this production become more consistently good throughout.

Robert Iles

To read a review of the 1998 West End production of Amy's View, starring Judi Dench, click here.