Hollie Harrington and Mel Sessions in Amy's View at Sewell Barn Theatre - Photo: Barry Parsons

When one of the central characters in a play is a arrogant, self-important critic, its very hard to review it without feeling just a little self-conscious.

But while David Hare’s play Amy’s View does spend a lot of time talking about the sometimes brittle friction between artist and observer, it really centres on the relationship between ageing luvvie Esme (Mel Sessions) and her more pragmatic daughter Amy (Hollie Harrington).

Being Hare this is mostly deal with through dialogue rather than action. This is a mixed blessing: there are some blisteringly funny one-liners but there are also some protracted discussions (such as one on the platonic ideal of a village fete) that seem unlikely to ever take place outside a stoned student’s bedsit.

The Sewell Barn cast cope well with this duality, and Hare himself includes the safety valve of the avuncular Frank (Kevin Oelrichs), who exists partly to puncture the verbosity with his suburban common sense. He also provides Hare’s obligatory political vehicle: set between 1979 and 1995, the play touches on the Lloyd’s of London financial crisis that saw many investors declared bankrupt. The programme notes provide the context the play itself lacks at this distance from its 1997 debut, though the Bitcoin bubble and countless other failed money-making schemes means it still feels relevant.

What really shines in this production though are the performances.

Sessions is a gently swirling blend of other-worldliness and perceptive, as her character notes good actors must: “saying one thing and thinking another”.

Harrington is remarkable in the title role, totally inhabiting her character with tight control over her emotions and portraying perfectly the progression from besotted twentysomething to world-weary woman.

Joe Seeney as Amy’s husband is dealt a difficult hand by the script, swinging from protracted diatribe to sudden, noises-off anger, but he carries it well. Joy Davidson is wickedly funny in her supporting role, and Wesley Burgess is touching as a young thesp.

The play seeks to set up false opposites between theatre and television, artist and critic, young and old; the reality is that every generation thinks it has invented everything while mostly just being history repeating.

And what doesn’t change is the power of theatre and great acting to entertain. If you have any doubts, go see this.