Opening Nights: Amy's View

A production full of pleasures, though a tad broad.

Oh, if only we could solve everyone else's problems and let them manage our own, wouldn't the world be a grand and well-functioning place? Here lies the tragedy within David Hare's poignant 1997 comedy, in which self-absorbed actress Esme (Julie Jamieson) and her love-starved daughter Amy (Angela DiMarco) spar about Amy's mate Dominic (Robert Hinds), a critic who sets out to prove the theater is dead. The theater having been Amy's rival for her mother's attention, is it any wonder she'd bring home a man intent on slaying it? Four scenes spanning 16 years document the sequence of smile-drenched battles. Director Christopher Zinovitch—who also designed the graceful suburban-London set—orchestrates some wonderfully wrenching moments in this conflict, through they arrive chiefly by escalation of volume. The cast does passable British accents, but their mannerisms wear thin. DiMarco's face visibly twitches in response to every syllable spoken to her. Jamieson seems locked in eyebrows-raised Bertie Wooster hauteur. As written, Dominic's allure is his edgy sadism toward Esme's theatrical pretenses, but Zinovitch has baby-faced Hinds—so perfect as the naive lead in STAGERight's recent Firebugs—looking and behaving like a doughy stooge. This renders Amy's attraction baffling—what's she doing with him? I found myself craving more vulnerability and magic in Esme, which Judi Dench surely conjured when she pioneered and won a Tony for the role (sorry, it was never filmed). Fortunately, Hare builds into each scene a twist that almost offsets the broadness of Zinovitch's production. Additional pleasures come from MaryLou Mills as Amy's doddering paternal grandmother and Paul Custodio as Esme's doting, razor-sharp neighbor, whose deeds can't match his wit. With typical smarts, Hare packs his play full of ideas: art versus reality, foolish modern Londoners chasing the illusion of a manor-born age straight to the 'burbs, and the self-deluding nature of Ponzi schemes. But ultimately, Amy's View is about lying fitfully in the beds we've made, despite our biggest champions warning "Don't do it" and "I told you so."

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