JOSH: What’s your plan?
ME: To be happy!
JOSH: And how does that happen?
ME: No idea...
The Artistic Home presents THE AMERICAN PLAN. Lili is a poor, little, rich girl. She’s mercurial. And Eva, her mother, believes Lili requires constant surveillance and prescriptions for her emotional fits. Eva guards Lili from life’s undesirable elements. Nick wanders into their backyard and becomes captivated. He wants to become Lili’s protector. Lili is smitten with Nick and wants him to rescue her from her house arrest. Nick’s got a plan. But, he’s not the only one. Eva has a plan of her own and it includes exposing the missing details of Nick’s past. And when a mysterious stranger shows up, everyone’s plans change. THE AMERICAN PLAN formulates multiple schemes in the quest for love, happiness or just an escape from the present.
Playwright Richard Greenberg creates a robust story of dream chasers. Greenberg sets his tale in 1959 Catskills. He introduces obstacles to the pursuit of happiness: mental illness, religious persecution, societal mores, economic status, parental preoccupation. He drops his characters into a vast, swirling ocean of issues and lets them try to swim to the safe shore. But who’s shore? Or sure? This is definitely a drama but there are solid comedic moments. Under the direction of Robin Witt, Kathy Scambiatterra (Eva) delivers a deliciously diabolical performance. Scambiatterra plays it perfectly enigmatic. Is she really cool or really cruel? Her pontifications of life insights are droll and disturbing. Margaret Katch (Lili) is a bright-eyed, bubbling, burst of blunt energy. At times, Katch is hilariously cheeky. Then, she is heart-wrenchingly vulnerable. She recites the last line of the play with unforgettable poignancy. Nick Horst (Nick) charms with his earnest seduction. And a delightful Tonya Simmons (Olivia) deadpans one line zingers.
THE AMERICAN PLAN is thought-provoking proposition. First, you’ll try to decipher what would make these characters really happy and then you’ll bring it home to try to figure out what makes you happy. The only speed bump I had in this well-done play was scene transitions. Greenberg wrote several scenes for his play. Witt chooses to linger after each scene banter with a silent silhouette moment. Because of the plethora of scenes, the initial impact is lost and the pacing becomes sluggish. Still, THE AMERICAN PLAN represents that powerful idea that we are responsible for our own happiness. The pursuit of happiness is both our right AND our fight. See this THE AMERICAN PLAN and then come up with yours!
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission.
At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont
Written by Richard Greenberg
Directed by Robin Witt
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 5pm
Thru August 26th
Buy Tickets at www.stage773.org