Tele­vi­sion: Plenty of drama in spy­ing game....................

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The Amer­i­cans

NO one could look more at home in the sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton in the 1980s than the Jen­nings fam­ily. Phillip and El­iz­a­beth have a happy, sta­ble mar­riage. Two lovely chil­dren. A nice house. A suc­cess­ful travel agency busi­ness. Oh, and one very big se­cret. Phillip and El­iz­a­beth aren’t re­ally Phillip and El­iz­a­beth.

They’re two highly trained deep-cover Rus­sian spies who’ve been fight­ing the Cold War be­hind en­emy lines for years while pos­ing as Amer­i­cans. Not even their chil­dren know their true iden­ti­ties or his­to­ries.

As the ’80s get un­der way, ten­sions be­tween the US and Rus­sia are mount­ing and the pres­sure on the pair to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion on Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal strat­egy and in­tel­li­gence tac­tics is grow­ing. But plac­ing even more stress on them are the de­vel­op­ments within their own home, as life in the land of the free starts to seem more and more ap­peal­ing to Phillip, while El­iz­a­beth re­mains faith­ful to the ideals of Mother Rus­sia.

When mixed emo­tions and un­re­quited feel­ings also en­ter the fray, the Jen­nings’ mis­sion be­comes much more com­pli­cated and much more danger­ous.

Wel­come to The Amer­i­cans, one of the best new dra­mas of the year. A grip­ping es­pi­onage thriller that dou­bles as a heart­break­ing story of two peo­ple try­ing to nav­i­gate a re­la­tion­ship that’s half-lie, half-truth, it’s tremen­dously ex­e­cuted and ter­rif­i­cally acted.

Head­ing the cast are Felic­ity star Keri Rus­sell, rev­e­la­tory as the duty-driven El­iz­a­beth, and Welsh ac­tor Matthew Rhys, per­haps best-known for his role as Kevin Walker on the fam­ily drama Broth­ers & Sis­ters.

Both ac­tors have a size­able chal­lenge with their char­ac­ters in The Amer­i­cans, and we mean char­ac­ters – aside from their cov­ers as Phillip and El­iz­a­beth, Rhys and Rus­sell take on a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent iden­ti­ties as part of their spy­craft. But that chal­lenge was one of the most at­trac­tive as­pects of the role for Rhys.

‘‘They are play­ing a part within a part within a part all the time and what’s in­ter­est­ing to me is the un­rav­el­ling of it,’’ he says.

‘‘There’s the Phillip and El­iz­a­beth they present to the world, there’s the Phillip and El­iz­a­beth when they’re alone – this is some­thing they’re try­ing to fig­ure out – and then there are the per­sonas they play when on th­ese mis­sions. As an ac­tor, it’s fan­tas­tic to be given some­thing so com­plex and so lay­ered.’’

And he be­lieves the same goes for his co-star, whom he’s quick to praise: ‘‘Keri was on board the pro­ject from the very be­gin­ning and I think it was a very, very shrewd choice on their be­half.’’

– GUY DAVIS

Mon­days, 8.30pm,

stars Matthew Rhys, as Phillip, and Keri Rus­sell as El­iz­a­beth.

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