by David Hare
Production Dates: 11-12th July, 2009
Play Venue: Felpham Village Hall
Amy’s View was written by British playwright David Hare, and originally premiered in London at the Royal National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre on June 13th, 1997. It was directed by Richard Eyre and starred Samantha Bond as Amy and Judi Dench as Amy's mother, Esme. It was then performed on Broadway on April 15, 1999. It was directed again by Eyre, with Dench and Bond reprising their roles. Felicity Kendal has also appeared as Esme and our actress playing the part has had a very encouraging letter from her about playing the role!
The play takes place in Berkshire near Pangbourne, at the home of Esme, a widow, and a well-known West End actress. The play starts in 1979 - the moment when the West End is ceasing to offer actors and actresses like Esme a regular way of life.
A fascinating core to this gripping play is the role and significance of traditional theatre as opposed to the new media entertainments like reality television and investigative chat shows that seem to be upstaging it.
The catalyst for the tense atmosphere and fierce argument, something that envelopes all the 16 years of the 4 Acts of the play, is the introduction to Esme by her daughter Amy of her new boyfriend Dominic. Dominic has a very low opinion of theatre and the way plays are acted, he thinks it is dead and passionately wants to get into the media arts and films.
Amy is caught in the middle of all this argument about theatre, and other aspects of her relationship with Dominic, which unfold in the play, mean that she is challenged hugely between the love and affection for her mother and the love she has for her partner. It is ‘Amy’s View’ that everyone should try and get on with each other but as you can imagine this view is severely challenged!
As if this huge argument was not enough there is yet another problem involving Esme and her friend and financial consultant which will bring back all the memories of the financial difficulties that preceded the present banking crisis which affected all the names in syndicates at Lloyds – something I note that was only settled legally weeks ago and therefore very pertinent to today’s problems!
Although I never saw the acclaimed production with Judi Dench in the starring role I can very much imagine this was very much a vehicle for her. It is a hugely challenging role, hardly off stage and always giving ‘an actress performance’ whether on the stage or to whoever is present in her Pangbourne sitting room! We are very fortunate to have playing this role Liz McNally who gained a special commendation for her role of M’Lyn in our March 2008 production of Steel Magnolias, which was given the NODA Accolade of Excellence for a Dramatic Production by NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) for that year.
The production of this play has not been without its challenges – it should have been staged in December 2008 but casting and production difficulties have had to be sorted including changing two of the very demanding parts and the play now being directed by myself with the much appreciated support of assistant director Sandy Knight.
Stepping in to play the part of Amy, an equally demanding role, I am thrilled to have Deborah Amor – a very well know local actress who wrote and directed “In Confidence’ for The Arundel Players in April. The highly acclaimed four monologues were influenced by Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads.
Also stepping in to play her boyfriend and eventual husband Dominic is Richard Greenhorne – best known perhaps for his performances and direction of many operatic productions but also a very fine actor and appeared in two of our past productions.
Two very experienced and celebrated local performers – Julia Webb plays Esme’s mother in law Evelyn and Bernie Taylor plays Frank, the local neighbour friend of Esme and her ‘financial adviser’.
At the end of the play we are introduced to Toby, played by newcomer Steven Rick who plays a young actor starring with Esme in a hugely successful play in the West End.
The ending is a very
heartening way of showing that theatre, despite
all the slings and arrows thrown at it during
the play, does emerge today as vital and
relevant as it always was. It is my intention to
make the ending of the play as stunning as we
can make it encourage our audiences to want more
of this wonderful art form.
Peter Green, July 2009
Thank you so much yet again for inviting me to see The Regis Players version of “Amy’s View”. This was a very brave production, but then, your society has never lacked courage. I wonder if you had realised how long it was when you decided to do a straight play with so little humour. Most societies would have become very unstuck on such a challenging play. Not yours. I could hardly believe that I had sat there for over two and a half hours riveted to a piece of drama which depended so much on superb acting and equally superb directing. Your society never fails to surprise me.
Deborah Amor as Amy proved herself to be an exceedingly talented lady in every respect. Her performance was totally convincing as was the performance of Julia Webb as Evelyn who managed to age and become senile so realistically. Everyone else acted with conviction and helped to hold the audience’s attention at all times however the star quality of this very demanding piece must certainly go to Liz McNally for a quite outstanding portrayal of Esme. Everything about her convinced the audience that she was a flamboyant actress with no real idea of the outside world. Who needs a Judi Dench when we have a Liz to entertain us.
Congratulations and all the best with the next production.
Jose Harrison, NODA District 9 Representative
Liz McNally (Esme) Steven Rick (Toby)
Julia Webb (Evelyn)
Richard Greenhorn (Dominic)
Bernard Taylor (Frank) Liz McNally (Esme) Deborah Amor (Amy)
Liz McNally (Esme) Richard Greenhorn (Dominic)
Steve Rick (Toby) Liz McNally (Esme)