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Review: The lovable Liolá at the National Theatre

Review: The American Plan at St James Theatre


Photo: Tristram Kenton
At the interval I wasn't quite sure what to make of The American Plan. A comedy? A melodrama? A romance? Lili (Emily Taafe) and her mother Eva (Diana Quick), who is a Jewish refugee, are holidaying in the Catskills and both oddly eccentric to the point that I really couldn't fathom them out.


They are accompanied by the straight-laced and sensible Olivia (Dona Croll) who is both servant and companion, sitting almost silently between mother and daughter as they bristle at each other. And then the seemingly sensible Nick (Luke Allen-Gale) arrives and starts wooing Lili.

In the second half much becomes clearer, sort of. Richard Greenberg's play is all of the genres described with intrigue thrown in but it somehow gels after the interval. Is Lili's assessment of her mother and her conspiracy theories petulant fantasy or is her mother indeed duplicitous? Does Lili's emotional instability mean that she has incapable of coping with happiness and therefore has to jeopordise it? Is Nick telling the truth about his past and are his motives honourable?

Writing in the programme Greenberg mentions fairytale and there is certainly an element of princess locked in the tower about Lili and her mother but it also examines love, longing and desire, prejudice, snobbery and class when worlds have been turned on their head.

Simple staged and well acted it is worth catching before it finishes its run at the St James Theatre on August 10.

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