April 23, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

In David Hare’s rich, intelligent, deliciously funny play, Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) stars as Esme Allen, a cynical and tender widowed British stage actress who watches helplessly as her only daughter, Amy (Samantha Bond), takes up with a crass, power-hungry television commentator (Tate Donovan). Hare (prolific British author of The Blue Room and Plenty and star of Via Dolorosa) seems to have a lot on his mind: the corrupting power of the media, the relevance of theater, the everlasting effects of childhood, and humanity’s makeshift search for God and guidance. But Amy’s View — as tidy, elegant, and beautiful as a Hermes bag — never strains, thanks to a strong supporting cast (including American Donovan affecting an ace British accent), supple direction by Richard Eyre (Hare’s Skylight), and, of course, Dench, who constructs a complex character whom you’ll at turns despise, pity, and admire. Even as her character bemoans the dearth of good roles for women, Dench — who may soon have a Tony to go with her Shakespeare in Love Oscar — takes this good role and comes off great. A

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