The American PlanPosted on: 24 July 2013 by Laurence Green
Laurence Green finds The American Plan both tiresome and intriguing at St James Theatre
A tangle of ravaged dreams, broken souls and twisted motives and deceit is provided by Richard Greenberg in his new play The American Plan (St James Theatre) directed by David Grindley.
Set against a backdrop of the Catskill Mountains during a 1960s summer, the story centres on Lili Adler, the fragile neurotic daughter of a wealthy German-Jewish refugee, who is a college drop-out and indulges in wild fantasies. However, after a chance meeting with Nick Lockridge, a handsome young stranger, she finds herself falling in love. But when her overbearing mother learns of their relationship, she proceeds to poison the young man’s affection and Lili’s one chance to escape her mother’s control looks like being lost forever.
This is a psychologically probing play which recalls the works of Tennessee Williams and F Scott Fitzgerald. But sadly this play lacks their dramatic insight and fascination. Indeed this is a play that takes a long time to get gear and manages to be both tiresome and intriguing at the same time. The basic premise on which the title is based, and which I won’t reveal – comes in the second half and is a theme that could have been explored in much greater depth from the outset.
Diana Quick, making a welcome return to the stage, as the manipulative mother with a thick Teutonic accent, displays plenty of zest but seemed to me ill at ease in the role. Luke Allen – Gale brings a mixture of charm and conviction as Nick, the aspiring architect, whom Lili falls for, while Mark Edel-Hunt makes his mark as Nick’s ambitious friend Gil and Dona Croll gives a striking low-key performance as the domestic Olivia.
But best of all is Emily Taaffe, combining nervous energy and appealing naturalism as Lili and at all times conveying the determination of a young woman striving for independence in a society that mostly seems insular and constrained.
The American Plan runs until Saturday 10 August 2013 at St James Theatre, London.
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