In Review

'Exquisite' acting keeps critics hooked on The American Plan

Diana Quick as 'outrageous gorgon Jewish mama' leads brilliant cast in London transfer from Bath

What you need to know A revival of US playwright Richard Greenberg's 1990 play, The American Plan, staged at the Theatre Royal, Bath earlier this year to great acclaim, has transferred to the St James Theatre, London.

Set in the Catskill Mountains during a summer in the early 1960s, The American Plan tells the story of Lili, the unstable daughter of German Jewish refugees, who falls for a mysterious young man, Nick. But Lili's domineering mother Eva will not give up her daughter easily and a tug-of-war ensues.

David Grindley directs the production starring Diana Quick as Eva, with Emily Taafe (above) as Lili and Luke Allen-Gale as Nick. Until 10 August.

What the critics like Greenberg's play combines a "shrewd and waspish humour with intrigue, mystery and a sad sense of longing", says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. The tremendous characters are beautifully handled by the charismatic Luke Allen-Gale and Emily Taaffe as Nick and Lili, and Diana Quick as the outrageous gorgon Jewish mama.

The performances are "exquisitely judged", says Lyn Gardner in The Guardian. Diana Quick is a brilliant Eva, a complex mix of the monstrous and the touchingly maternal, while Emily Taaffe captures Lili's mercurial fragility.

Greenberg's Hitchcockian tale is so well acted it kept me "hooked until the very end", says Tim Walker in the Daily Telegraph. Quick is a delight as the imperious mother and Allen-Gale is an actor clearly destined for great things.

What they don’t like This elegant production transfers from Bath, but in the larger space "the aching moments of malaise don’t always resonate", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. And the play switches uncomfortably between ingenious comedy and the heavy pathos of a soap opera.

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