Amy's View

Previewed 14 November 2006, Opened 20 November 2006, Closed 17 February 2007 at the Garrick Theatre in London

A major revival of David Hare's play Amy's View in London directed by Sir Peter Hall and starring Felicity Kendal, Jenna Russell and Gawn Grainger

It is 1979 and Esme Allen has it all. A successful actress, she is at the pinnacle of her career and passionate about the West End stage where she earns a comfortable living. But then a visit from her daughter, Amy, with her new boyfriend, a brash young gossip-columnist and film critic, sets in motion a series of events which reach their shattering conclusion sixteen years later. This blistering journey through family relationships, the changing face of Britain and popular culture sees one of our most compelling writers at the height of his powers. Amy's View is an enthralling, stimulating and witty drama about the power of love and loss. It was originally a triumphant success at the National Theatre in 1997 and transferred to the West End and then Broadway.

The cast for this revival of Amy's View in London features Felicity Kendal as 'Esme' and Jenna Russell as her daughter 'Amy' along with Gawn Grainger, Ryan Kiggell, Antonia Pemberton and Geoff Breton. It is directed by Peter Hall. David Hare's West End plays include Plenty, Secret Rapture, Skylight, The Blue Room and The Breath of Life. Felicity Kendal's credits include Mind Millie For Me at the Haymarket Theatre in 1996. Peter Hall's credits include Lenny about Lenny Bruce starring Eddie Izzard (Queen's Theatre 1999).

"When Amy's View opened nearly a decade ago, I called it a bad Hare day salvaged by the incomparable Judi Dench, who made it a richer piece than it deserved. Time and some rewriting, alas, haven't done much to improve it but, once again, the leading lady is the best thing about it... It's a play with holes which nevertheless proves a road-worthy vehicle for Felicity Kendal's talents." The Mail on Sunday

"David Hare's play, Amy's View - revived by Peter Hall - spans Thatcher's regime and the early nineties... The play's setting feels old-fashioned, but the fierce cultural row between Esme and Dominic has actually gained more relevance, with the remorseless dumbing-down of British culture. This is also the performance of a lifetime by Felicity Kendal, plumbing startling depths of grief in her terminal quarrel with Jenna Russell's fraught Amy." The Independent on Sunday

"Peter Hall's revival of David Hare's Amy's View is like a rebirth; it's like meeting a brilliant, angry adolescent a decade later and seeing that he's found himself. At its heart is a performance of blazing, regal vulnerability by Felicity Kendal as Esme... Jenna Russell is a fine, tense, embattled Amy, and Gawn Grainger creates one of those unsparing, carefully crafted psychological portraits of which he is such a master." The Sunday Times

The playwright David Hare said about his play: "Amy's View starts in a widow's sitting-room which is casually littered with the work of a dead artist, Bernard Thomas. It is Thomas's spirit which then presides over the whole play. The story that follows, about the relationship between a leading West End actress, Esme Allen, and her loving daughter, Amy, is played out over a sixteen-year period, starting in 1979. It describes an era in which it becomes more and more difficult for an actress to make a living in the theatre alone. But, throughout, it is the memory of her dead husband which provides Esme with the lasting principles of her life. In writing a play which is, at the last, a testimony to art's dignifying importance in the life, at least, of one individual, I am pleased that so many people have spotted the fact that the play aims to use all the armoury of theatre to defend theatre itself. Since the play opened at the National Theatre in 1997, I have also been amused and sometimes taken aback by the sheer variety of people's responses to it... To some people who write to me, Amy's View is, primarily, a family play, the study of a relationship between a mother and daughter. To others, it is a tragedy, centred round the deeply mysterious question of why we can never make amends with people we need to, but instead always choose disastrously to put reconciliation off to another day. To others again, it is seen primarily as an attack on a generation which regards art itself as old-fashioned and elitist. To a last, substantial group, Amy's View has appeared principally as a political play, showing how the spoilt British characteristically dream their way through their lives, hopelessly trusting to their own superiority, and never really bothering to come to terms with a reality which has changed beyond recognition. I hope it will ruin nobody's fun to say I recognize all these interpretations, and intend at least three-quarters of them. But beyond all of them, my purpose in writing Amy's View was to do something blindingly simple, and yet still distressingly rare: to put modern women's lives on the stage in a way which I hope women might recognize."

Amy's View in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 14 November 2006, opened on 20 November 2006 and closed on 17 February 2007.

Amy's View - 1998 with Judi Dench

Previewed 8 January 1998, Opened 14 January 1998, Closed 18 April 1998 at the Aldwych Theatre in London

David Hare's new play Amy's View in London starring Judi Dench and Samantha Bond and directed by Richard Eyre

1979, Esme Allen is a well-known actress at just the moment when the West End is ceasing to offer actors a regular way of life. The visit of her daughter, Amy, with her new boy friend, sets in train a series of events which only find their shape eighteen years later. A play about the long-term struggle between a strong mother and her loving daughter, Amy's View mixes love, death and the theatre in a heady and original way.

The cast features Judi Dench as 'Esme Allen' and Samantha Bond as 'Amy' with Ronald Pickup as 'Frank', Joyce Redman as 'Evelyn', Eoin McCarthy as 'Dominic' and Christopher Staines as 'Toby'. Directed by Richard Eyre with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Mark Henderson and music by Richard Hartley. This production is a transfer from the National Theatre's Lyttleton Theatre (previewed from 16 June 1997, opened on 20 June 1997 and closed on 8 November 1997).

"When David Hares Amy's View was new at the National Theatre in 1997, Judi Dench's performance as Esme was the greatest performance by an actress to be seen in London all year. Now that Richard Eyre's production has transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, her performance is yet greater. The performances by the rest of the cast have grown too - above all Samantha Bond's as Amy, Esme's daughter. And the best news of all is that the play seems also to have grown. It is still true that Amy's View has faults, some of which become more nagging in recollection than at the time one experiences the play; but to be nagged by them is also to be excited by the play Amy's View wants to be, and to feel just to how great a degree it succeeds... For Dench and Bond, their performances are the best examples today before the British public of how great acting can make a world onstage real and, further, can take the audience along a large and rich journey. It is easy to find fault with Amy's View; but the best way of praising it is to see just how much these actors make of it." The Financial Times

"There's a weird satisfaction in seeing a play one really enjoyed first time around proving itself in a barn of a theatre like the Aldwych Theatre. David Hare's latest has now arrived in the West End proper after a sell-out run at the National Theatre; It remains a brilliant evening with Judi Dench and Samantha Bond providing a starry duet in this laughter-filled tragedy set in darkest Berkshire. If anything, the show has improved even though its faults are now more obvious... The play has a great deal to say about life and love. It's Amy's view that love conquers all. It's Esme's view that in the end it doesn't... The rest of the cast is rock solid. Ronald Pickup is fun as the drunk next door, while Joyce Redman, as Esme's mother, goes quietly senile. Such classy performances in a major contemporary play make this unmissable." The Daily Express

"No British playwright is better than David Hare at making arguments about social issues lively yet fair. Antithesis follows thesis, retort follows opinion, as deftly as ping follows pong. But this time the bats, the tennis table, or something, have been fixed. In the play's central conflict, which is between the cultural claims of the slick modern media and that antiquated form, the theatre, there is absolutely no doubt where Hare's sympathies lie. Although he makes token efforts to balance their views, Esme the doughty traditionalist wins by furlongs from Dominic, a sort of serial philistine labouring to be real... Why, then, do I still find the play so enjoyable? Well, there are three main reasons: one is that Hare writes with great wit and craftsmanly confidence, turning many a sharp sentence and giving us the best first-act curtain-line in town. Another is the pace and clarity of Richard Eyre's direction. And the third is Dench's wonderful blend of bloodymindedness and warmth. The final scene, which finds Esme grimly enduring her losses yet getting serious solace from the exercise of her art, is as moving as anything Dench, Eyre or Hare have achieved. More than the arguments that have preceded it, it makes Hare's case. The theatre lives. The theatre matters. The theatre is unique." The Times

"Until Skylight, David Hare was best known for his big, state-of-the-nation plays which examined British institutions and found them wanting. Then, in Skylight, on a comparatively intimate scale, the political got personal to brilliant effect. So I felt wildly excited at the prospect of Amy's View, another domestic drama which promised to tackle the theatre, as well as life, death and everything. It's a wretched disappointment. The play charts the relationship between Esme, an actress, and her daughter, Amy, from the time Amy falls in love with a man Esme disapproves of, through their break-up, and reaches a reconciliation of sorts only after Amy's death. Throughout the play Hare lashes out at today's media, which reduces culture to product, at TV and film and even at phoney heritage England. But he breaks no new ground, nor allows the play to cohere into a satisfactory dramatic argument. While a superbly theatrical scene at the end makes a spirited defence on behalf of the theatre's unique power, even this is muted. Still, Amy's View has a major compensation in providing a role of glorious scope for Judi Dench. As the unpredictable Esme, once a successful West End actress, now reduced to playing a germ on the radio, she gives a mesmerising performance." The Mail on Sunday

Amy's View in London at the Aldwych Theatre previewed from 8 January 1998, opened on 14 January 1998 and closed on 18 April 1998