I though playing out the 'special relationship' in this way was rather clever and very thought-provoking. Well acted and very well staged, it might not be great, but it's certainly a cut above many new plays - and it fits the new Hampstead like a glove. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (18.104.22.168)
24 Jun 03
I thought that this was a great and enjoyable piece of writing. The characters were excellent and humorous, the scenes were always funny, sometimes laugh out loud so. However there were too many obvious moments where the characters go over the top sometimes looking as if they were from dead ringers and it was far too long, some of the many scenes although funny were unnescesary. However the acting was excellent, with great characters on show from Bonneville, Walter and Redmond. The best performance came from Matthew Marsh as the New York Buisnessman. He is comppletely brilliant with a superb American accent, the stage is the most alive when Marsh is on. The direction is very caring, Topper clearly getting the best out of her actors and the minimalist set was very good.It has its faults but do not be put off this is an excellent play dealing with how we see the Americans and vice versa and does not deserve the bad reviews it has got. The new theatre is amazing and support it by seeing this great show.
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (22.214.171.124)
22 Jun 03
My partner and I approached this play with trepidation; we left feeling depressed - "a bad taste in the mouth", she said. This is quite something: we're long-time regular theatre-goers, and I don't recall coming out of a show - ever - feeling depressed.
The reason for the trepidation? We're an anglo-American couple. I'm from here, she's from New York. I lived over there for eight years; she's lived here for the same.
What was the play intended to be (if not merely opportunistic) - a comedy of transatlantic manners, comparative social criticism, political polemic? Had it been any one of these there might have been some point. What it really seemed to be was a rag-bag sitcom of out-of-date stereotypes and prejudices, with a new-age youth-culture gloss for added meaning (the kids, whose parents naturally don't get it, form a deep mutual understanding while back-packing the world and making zone-out music).
My partner insisted that the characters, especially the Americans, weren't "real". True enough - just compare the flimsy types in this play with the characters in any US TV show, from ER to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The British characters seem to be living in the 1970’s.
(The actors, by the way, are great.)
The only structure in the play comes from two conveniently symmetrical disillusionments: the Brit inventor has his (ludicrous) sheep-mower ripped off; the Yank genealogy nut finds out her supposed relative was adopted. Neat. The rest is sketches and one-liners.
The climax – which the Daily Telegraph, revealingly, seems to enjoy so much – is simply a ping-pong of bar-room xenophobia. At this point you feel the play falling apart in front of you. Some in the audience laugh, nervously; the rest cringe.
In the end, the author has her cake and eats it, too: the parents bust up but the kids get it together. Very balanced. (At least with Harold Pinter you know where the author stands.) Presumably this means there's hope for the future. The "why/why not" skit at the very end sums up the message. But this is just another snatch from the grab-bag of Brit-Yank cliché.
What’s so depressing is that at least one person – the author (one hates to think how many others) – apparently thinks this play says something true about how British and American people interact.
As my partner said (pace Elaine): “Fake, fake, fake.”
- USER: Whatsonstage.com (126.96.36.199)
14 Jun 03
This play, with a cast that any theatre would die for, lets it's self and us down in the end.
The split in the last scene between the US and UK couple is such a shouting/angry mess with every US/Brit theme thrown in it ruins a rather good play about the two.
A cheap last 'upset' around the couples children also does not ring true. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (188.8.131.52)
11 Jun 03
I disagree completely with the previous reviewer. First, this production offers marvellous acting - all the performances are flawless. Second, the play is a very impressive analysis of a relationship which is crucial to all our lives - that between America and the UK - and the central scene in which the American and English characters contains many truths which we should all be prepared to acknowledge. Third, the writer deals with a post-September 11 world not by hammering us over the head with the changes that have come about but by deftly introducing what is new as a result of that traumatic event. This is very good writing indeed matched by equally good acting. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (184.108.40.206)
31 May 03
I was looking forward to seeing this play at the lovely new Hampstead Theatre. Well unfortunately the writing fell far short of good.
The first act was a transatlantic old-fashioned comedy of manners, very clichéd even down to the teenager in his bedroom on the computer all day. It was mildly amusing and I did laugh on several occasions. The acting was fine (in the pedestrian sense of the word), in fact Hugh Bonneville was better than expected! I did however get ever so slightly tired at laughing at silly accents, mildly embarrassing social situations and the word sex coming from a fifty something New Yorker (in comparison to an array of things).
The second act however drained all the amusement from me until the hysterical (in the frantic sense of the word) penultimate scene. The play tried to become serious and give us an insight into the characters feelings; too little too late. The ludicrous English Country stereotype two of the characters had become was just not right for the play.
The penultimate scene became funny for a few moments, but it was over long and as I said before hysterical. The final flaccid scene was the only reason I saw for having the puddle deep characters of the respective (US and UK) couples children, throughout the rest of the play .
All in all a very disappointing case, shame on you Tamsin Oglesby (next time drop the English people who know the order of precedence), and I suppose a lukewarm well done to the Director Jennie Darnell who did the best of a bad job (the revolve was used quite nicely at times). A very turgid evening out. - USER: Whatsonstage.com (220.127.116.11)
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