THEATER REVIEW: The American Plan

Photo by Carol Rosegg

A nice tight drama, sparkling dialogue, well-developed (and played) characters, with some sharp-tongued witticism is what I wanted to see…and Richard Greenberg’s The American Plan gave me exactly what I asked for. With the stellar Lily Rabe and the even stellar-er Mercedes Ruehl, this 2-hour 10 minute romp in the Catskills really shouldn’t be missed.

This is a play about pasts we leave behind, or should, and those things that, even when we are trying to keep them from doing so, eventually surface to bite us on the a**. As suspected, Ruehl’s Eva Adler is a force of nature really, very much like Cherry Jones’ Sister Aloysius in Doubt (ok, maybe not as encompassing or volatile a character, but…hell, you get my drift!) and Lily Rabe’s Lili, her daughter and foil is just as good with an even more difficult physical part.

I don’t want to give too much away here but it is the struggle between the mother and daughter, the questions over who is manipulating who that is the crux of this play that takes place in the early 1960’s, mostly ‘up’ at the Catskills. In fact, the added facts we learn about Lili’s handsome soon-to-be-fiance Nick Lockridge (played perfectly by Kieran Campion) might have been something this tight little play didn’t need actually. But I nitpick; this is great theater and worth seeing. Great sparkling observations, quick wit and again Mercedes Ruehl matching acting chops with Lily Rabe.

Additional mention should go to Austin Lysy’s swarmy Gil Harbison, a spectacular unstated Brenda Pressley as the all-knowing maid Olivia Shaw (with a past all her own we never learn about) and Jonathan Fensom’s really interesting sets.

The American Plan is simply a solid play, well written, well acted and perfectly written by one of our more venerable playwrights, Richard Greenberg. Don’t miss this one.

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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