A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
KZNPO advert DTA advert .
See also our Classified ads
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

GRAHAMSTOWN - DRAMA (article first published : 1999-07-16)

In his new play, Amy’s View, Sir David Hare intended to “put modern women’s lives on the stage in a way which I hope women recognise.” It deals, amongst other things, with the battle of theatre to survive against the attraction of the big screen and the convenience of television. Dame Judi Dench won an award for her performance as Esme Allen when the show appeared on London’s West End.

Pieter Toerien Productions, by arrangement with the Royal National Theatre, presented the South African première of the play at the 1999 Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Directed by Alan Swerdlow, it features Sandra Prinsloo in the main role with Patricia Sanders, Duncan Lawson, John Whiteley and Jana van Niekerk as Amy

In the first few scenes, the actors seem to be giving unreal performances, characters are overdrawn and situations are forced. You begin to think you’ve gone back in time to the theatre style of the 60’s. But bear with it, it’s part of the process of Amy’s View. Things get better … and better … and even better. Not for the characters in the play, that is, but for the audience as this intensely dramatic piece moves relentlessly to its conclusion, stripping each character down to their emotional core in the process.

Patricia Sanders is a delightfully irascible grandmother, continually talking at cross-purposes and infuriating her daughter-in-law. John Whiteley gives his usual consistently good performance as Esme’s impassive friend Frank. Eventually responsible for her bankruptcy, having placed her share portfolio with Lloyd’s before the crash, one wonders whether his wish to marry Esme is a desire to atone!

In a controlled and credible performance, Duncan Lawson takes the part of Dominic from a restless exuberant youth, to a self-important television producer to a world-weary man who has had to come to terms with himself. His final scene with Esme is poignant. Clearly-spoken and luminous, Jana van Niekerk is well cast as the loving and gentle Amy of the title - all too soon confronted with life’s harsh realities while her loyalty and love both for her errant husband and her disorganised mother remain undimmed.

The acting honours undoubtably go to Sandra Prinsloo who comes into her own midway through the play when the true character of Esme starts to show itself. This is a complex part – on the surface theatrical and deliberately vague yet underneath confused, insecure and over-trusting – and she handles it with strength and passion.

Throughout the play, Dominic and Esme become ever-increasing protagonists (television versus stage) while Amy vainly tries to reconcile them. In the end, the Dominic and Esme are the only ones remaining and, as all that binds them is a deep love for Amy, we are left with the thought that between them they may eventually respect her view. In a clever closing scene, Esme stoically picks herself up and turns to face her audience once more.

I can’t say I was happy with the costumes, which seemed ill-fitting and often unflattering. It was also a bit odd to find Amy having to sit on a couch dressed in the same colour as the upholstery! The main set, considering the logistics of performing in Grahamstown, was adequate but the dressing room was a masterpiece!

Alan Swerdlow has directed this complex play with sensitivity, warmth and understanding, extracting fine performances from his cast and staying true to the clarity of David Hare’s writing and intentions.

Amy’s View opens at the Theatre on the Bay tonight to give previews until the official opening night on July 25. This will be a double celebration as the play will also mark Pieter Toerien’s 350th production! Amy’s View runs for at least a month in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg for a season at the Alhambra Theatre at the end of August.


 A current news
crafts
dance
festivals
drama
film & tv
literature
music
supper theatre
visual arts
miscellaneous

leisuresmart
letters to the editor

classified ads

 A archives
crafts
dance
drama
festivals
film & tv
literature
music
supper theatre
visual arts
miscellaneous

letters

home page


a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart