Sunday, June 10, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Best Laid Plans By Beverly Creasey

You have to give the Happy Medium Theatre Company credit for tackling a difficult script like Richard Greenberg’s THE AMERICAN PLAN. Greenberg revisits the repressive fifties when being black, gay or Jewish meant an extremely hard row to hoe. Lili Adler (Robyn Linden) and her mother (Audrey Lynn Silvia) are summering in the Catskills with their maid (Lauren Foster) but they don’t mix with the borscht belt crowd across the lake. Mother considers them beneath her. Not so Lili---who has set her cap on a handsome young man (Nick Miller) who has been flirting with all the vacationing “carpet heiresses.”

Director Melanie Garber’s actors play so close to the vest in Act I that you’re compelled to take what they say on face value. If there’s no foreshadowing or subtext, you might believe that mother has her daughter’s best interests at heart, for one. When intermission arrives, it’s all been sewn up, you think, where you ought to be anticipating and even dreading what could go wrong in Act II.

Thankfully, Happy Medium’s THE AMERICAN PLAN comes alive with intrigue (and Greenberg’s best writing) in ACT II. The minute Mikey DiLoreto steps on stage, you’re pulled in to the story. That’s when secrets, lies and sabotage have their consequences. DiLoreto brilliantly delivers Greenberg’s credo (accepted practice at the time) about marrying and prospering and being “us our whole lives.” You’re quite afraid he will ruin everything for Nick and Lili but you sympathize with him nonetheless. If only Act II had started the play!