Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

The view is simply outstanding

Amy's View

The Grange Players

Grange Playhouse, Walsall


RUNNING persistently through David Hare's account of the tensions and tribulations in the family of an actress who is getting past her sell-by date are the themes of independence, anxiety, jealousy, refusal to be beaten and financial collapse. They collide, they intermingle – and in Martin Groves's absorbing production they keep us totally glued to the action. 

This is an evening of outstanding theatre, presented by a company without a weak link, give or take the mispronunciation of says, communal and, quite remarkably, passage, which somehow acquired an unaccountable long A on the first night 

Not that a trio of quirks in any way threatens the worth or validity of an exercise that is a testimony to everyone involved in it and which carries its audience on an emotional rollercoaster that hits its high spot when the widowed actress Esme (Julie Lomas) and her daughter Amy have a nose-to-nose screaming match that could slip smoothly into EastEnders, no questions asked. 

It is Esme's misfortune to be taken aback when Amy (Becki Jay) brings home her boorish boy-friend who happens to be journalist and television guru Dominic (Robert Newton), while she is looking after her increasingly senile mother (Mary Whitehouse) and being guided inextricably into a morass of debt by her alcoholic financial adviser (Ian Eaton). 

There is, that is to say, plenty to go at. 


It is Esme and Amy around whom the action swirls, and Julie Lomas and Becki Jay respond superbly to their respective challenges. Over the course of 16 years, Julie Lomas takes Esme from the buoyant, generous, confident woman we first meet to the crumbling figure we finally find in her theatre dressing room. Every step of the way is believable and eventually it is a progression that becomes desperately painful to watch. 

Amy meanwhile finds that life is not going to be the bowl of cherries that she has been taking for granted. Like her mother, she watches its hopes and promises slip away. And like Julie Lomas, Becki Jay is an exciting central figure as she makes Amy's various views on the world abundantly clear at appropriate moments. 

Robert Newton guides Dominic from being a gauche and rude young man – he has brought his bike into Esme's living room to repair a puncture when we first meet him – to being the apparently reformed and penitential character who turns up in Esme's dressing room at the end of he evening, on a mission of apology and bridge-building. Again, this is a sterling performance. 

Ian Eaton is pleasingly unpushful as Frank, the financial failure who manages to protect his own piggy bank from the incompetence he keeps for other people's money, and Aaron Armstrong Craddock is the splendidly theatrical luvvie. Mary Whitehouse, meanwhile, takes the granny figure from a state of pitifully repetitive questioning to total, eyes-closed stillness one summer night in 1993. 

This is a production in which the company can take pride, and it is enacted in a set of stature which is exactly what it deserves. To 24.7.10.

John Slim


Another view . . .


THIS thought provoking play by David Hare contains the perfect blend of ingredients to fascinate the audience - love, family disputes, a financial scandal, tragedy, fidelity and a helping of humour.

The plot involves successful actress Esme Allen taking an instant dislike to her daughter's new opinionated boyfriend, a feeling accelerated when she discovers Amy is pregnant and reluctant to tell him.

Becki Jay gives a wonderful performance as young Amy, particularly in the emotion-charged clashes with her mum, beautifully played by Julie Lomas who skilfully portrays the anxiety and fears she has over the relationship.

Robert Newton impresses, too, as the ambitious gossip columnist and film critic, Dominic Tyghe, who hasn't much time for the theatre compared with the modern media, which brings him into certain conflict with his prospective mother-in-law even before he walks out on the loyal Amy.

There is an amusing contribution from Ian Eaton, playing Esme's close friend and dodgy financial advisor, Frank Oddie, whose own funds seem, surprisingly, to be intact while Esme is facing ruin .

Produced and directed by Martin Groves, Amy's View runs to Saturday night (July 24).

Paul Marston 

Box Office: 01922 649168

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