Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index


to e-mail us:

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK



the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Amy's View

David Hare

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Amy's View

Title: Amy's View
Author: David Hare
Genre: Drama
Written: 1997
Length: 127 pages
Availability: Amy's View - US
Amy's View - UK
Amy's View - Canada
  • Amy's View premièred at the Lyttelton Theatre on 13 June 1997, in a production directed by Richard Eyre and starring Judi Dench

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B- : decent bits, but unwieldy

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Christian Science Monitor . 7/5/1999 Iris Fanger
Evening Standard B 23/6/1997 Nicholas de Jongh
Evening Standard . 15/1/1998 Nicholas de Jongh
The LA Times C 16/4/1999 L. Winer-Bernheimer
The LA Times . 17/4/2000 Michael Phillips
New York A 26/4/1999 John Simon
The NY Times B- 16/4/1999 Ben Brantley
TLS . 4/7/1997 Oliver Reynolds
The Village Voice F 27/4/1999 Michael Feingold
Wall St. Journal B+ 21/4/1999 Amy Gamerman

  Review Consensus:

  Judi Dench was great as Esme, but .....

  From the Reviews:
  • "But details such as motivation or exposition to explain the changing circumstances are left unexplained. The effect of Hare's playwriting technique is a general unruliness, defying the audience to sort out what's going on." - Iris Fanger, Christian Science Monitor

  • "Amy's View is David Hare's first old-fashioned play: having so eloquently conveyed and criticised the essence of Mrs Thatcher's England he now turns tail. (...) Amy's View still captivates and concerns" - Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard (1)

  • "There's something disquietingly old-fashioned about the theatrical framework and the values of Amy's View" - Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard (2)

  • "It is Hare, strangely enough, who is not at the top of his form here. (...) Amy's View (...) turns out to be one of those plays that does not travel well. This is a surprise. Hare's concerns here, aside from his endorsement of the pure, self-affirming exhilaration of the theatrical moment, come out in scattershot bursts" - Linda Winer-Bernheimer, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Hare's skills as a dramatist -- his precise ear, his rhythmic surety, his ability to jack up the tension and the outrage -- have always come at a price. In Amy's View, the price is a two-act finger-wagging." - Michael Phillips, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Being about life, it is about surprises all the way. Big surprises that the author springs on us quasi-casually, and leaves not fully explained. Amy's View is about dots that you yourself must struggle to connect. (...) It defies easy summary, prompt evaluation. You must pay close attention to details, and think long after; I have only just begun." - John Simon, New York

  • "The thousands of people who have already purchased tickets to Amy's View (...) on the strength of Ms. Dench's new international celebrity will not be disappointed in its star. They may, however, have difficulty swallowing the bitter, not entirely distilled brew of diatribe and piety that is Mr. Hare's play." - Ben Brantley, The New York Times

  • "However much Hare's characters discuss the mess and disarray of their lives, there is a sheen to the writing which keeps these at one remove. (...) Hare often seems to fall in love with his main female characters; his contempt for Dominic is, perhaps, a little too easy." - Oliver Reynolds, Times Literary Supplement

  • "For absence of quality, though, it would have to go a long way to beat Amy's View. (...) All that's inside Amy's View, anyway, is the uninteresting hostility between Amy's widowed mother, a semifamous actress named Esme, and Amy's husband, a parentless prig named Dominic" - Michael Feingold, The Village Voice

  • "(A) parable about conflict -- between mothers and daughters, high art and pop culture, cozy English traditions and cold New British realities. (...) Mr. Hare offers few new twists on the sad old dilemma of family unhappiness, although his writing is so sharp, the dialogue so zingy, that you don't really mind." - Amy Gamerman, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Amy's View is a four-act play, spanning some sixteen years. The first act is set in 1979, the second in 1985, the third in 1993, the last in 1995.
       In the first act Amy has brought her boyfriend, Dominic, to her mother Esme's house in Berkshire. Esme is an actress, very much of the old school and the West End heyday, facing some uncertainty as the theatre is apparently beginning to decline in popularity. Young Dominic, an aspiring filmmaker (though in this first scene only a lowly critic and journalist) is representative of these shifting tastes and changing times, almost completely uninterested in theatre and focussed only on modern media. As he tells Esme: "my generation ... by and large, we don't go to the theatre."
       It is an argument that continues throughout the play. Esme's career-decline is mirrored by Dominic's meteoric rise to "media monolith". "The image has taken the place of the word", Dominic diagnoses, and he rides this change in fashion to the top. Esme, meanwhile, is reduced to eventually playing on a television soap, before finally returning to the small stage. Esme's life is further complicated by a foolish investment in Lloyd's (an opportunity with unlimited liability translating, by the end, into absolutely ruinous debt).
       Among the news Amy has for her mother when she brings Dominic home that first time is also that she is pregnant -- something she has not shared with him yet. The relationship between Amy and Dominic is never a completely happy one, though it continues, in some fashion, over the course of most of the play. Amy's relationship with her mother is also a complicated one, with long periods of estrangement. Amy tells her mother:

I went with Dominic because he was the future. I'm frightened of you because you're the past.
       Neither visionary future nor scary past work out well for Amy, however. The "Amy's view" of the title refers both to a self-published paper that Amy put out as a child ("for years", making a "small fortune" with it), as well as her outlook on life -- "Amy's famous view that love conquers all", as her mother says. But the paper apparently folded (making way, much later, to Dominic's first efforts, the first step up on his career ladder), and, if anything, the only thing that love conquers here is poor Amy, crushed by the outsized egos surrounding her. Her larger-than-life mother and her egomaniacal pretty-boy mate are just a bit too much for her to handle. They are the two people she most wants to help, but they don't like accepting her help (or the appearance of her helping).
       Hare adds other layers and players, including aging Evelyn, Amy's paternal grandmother (who lives with Esme), as well as Esme's financial advisor and sometime love-interest, Frank.
       There is some clever dialogue, there are some nice scenes, but overall Amy's View is quite a long muddle. The huge shifts in time and the largely predictable occurrences (Esme's fall and Dominic's rise, especially) aren't particularly well handled. Some of the elements -- the Lloyd's fiasco in particular -- seem strained, others -- such as Amy's dead father, the painter Bernard Thomas -- under-utilized. Perhaps the piece lends itself to theatrical performance (witness the raves for Dame Judi Dench as Esme in the original and then the Broadway production of the play), but it falls fairly flat on the page.
       Hare seems to want to do a lot here, to convey a great deal. But fairly little truly comes across well.

- Return to top of the page -


Amy's View: Reviews: David Hare: Other books by David Hare under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       English playwright David Hare was born in 1947. He has written many plays and screenplays and won numerous prizes.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2001-2008 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links