The capital is currently awash with transfers from Theatre Royal Bath. Following the success of Relatively Speaking and Fences, another hit, The American Plan, has travelled east, setting up camp at the St James theatre.
Written by Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg, The American Plan charts the story of Lili, a troubled 20-year-old who feels trapped at the Catskills resort where she is spending the summer with her mother. After Nick, a young man from the hotel across the lake, spends the afternoon on their property, she becomes dependent on his company and goes to great lengths to break him apart from his girlfriend Mindy to keep him for herself. Love blossoms, but when another man is thrown into the mix, Mindy turns out to be the least of Lili’s problems.
Emily Taaffe does well to capture the complexity of Lili’s character, at once a fragile and unstable figure and a selfish manipulator brimming with eccentricity. The presence of Luke Allen-Gale’s charming Nick brings an element of calm, providing an escape from her domineering mother and the troubled thoughts inside her head.
While every member of the five-strong cast, which also includes Dona Croll as Eva’s caring maid Olivia, delivers a convincing performance, Diana Quick steals the show as Lili’s dictatorial mother Eva, who draws humour from her past as a German Jewish refugee. Moving around the stage with a sense of royal superiority, Quick delivers her lines with an amusingly stern accent, which punctuates this drama about sexuality, class and familial relationships with a powerful punch of humour.
Jonathan Fensom’s simplistic set evokes the lakeside setting beautifully; the sloping wooden jetty set producing reflections on the dark glossy flooring as if it were surrounded by water, but this eventually gives way to a less idyllic setting, which comes to reflect the melancholy of the play’s conclusion.