There is no beginning, no end. As the audience enter, the
actors are already on stage and it’s up to us to work out
where we are. Plunged into the middle of things we immediately
identify with the unsure, awkward Amy, who is stuck in the middle
of an emotional tug-of-war between her mother and her boyfriend. From their first meeting, it is clear that Amy’s devotion
to the conniving, selfish Dominic will compromise her
relationship with her mother. Amy’s unshakeable view that
‘love conquers all’ is a glossing-over of the less
acceptable truth: that in a choice between love for her ageing,
lonely mother and her boyfriend, her boyfriend wins. The three generations, Amy, her mother and her grandmother,
are each fighting their own personal battles: unexpected
pregnancy, unfaithful husbands, impending death. The brilliant
symmetry of Hare’s play thwarts the traditional order of
nature as deftly as the play thwarts conventions of theatre. What begins as an interesting parallel between mother and
partner and daughter and boyfriend becomes a parallel pattern of
frustration, as it becomes apparent neither can work. The
once-sparky grandmother drifts into senility to be cared for like
a child, and Amy’s death makes concrete the pitiful plight
of the mother, whose vitality fades with her failing stage
career. The comedy of the opening scene is deceptive in light of the
sadness that follows. As the laughs fade into silence, we find
ourselves drawn, unprepared, into tragedy. The cast handle this
metamorphosis excellently. While the opening act is well played,
driven forward by the exceptional comic talent of Laura Mazzola
as the mother, the true acting capabilities of the cast seem to
grow with the increasing sadness of the play. The interaction between the characters, and the theatricality
of their personalities is flawless. In a play so conscious of its
own artistry, the production succeeds superbly in both
naturalness and melodrama, claustrophobia and loneliness. A
first-rate show.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004