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Review: The Best Man (Playhouse Theatre, London)

Tuesday, 13th Mar 2018  

The Best Man Review - Playhouse Theatre

With American Presidential activity dominating the news and headlines on a daily basis, it is sometimes easy to forget that scandal was, well, scandalous. Details of a persons personal lives and medical histories could have a catastrophic effect on the appearance of their ability to take up the most powerful office in the world.

The Best Man is a Tony award nominated play by celebrated and controversial writer and intellectual Gore Vidal that examines what kind of game politics actually is and whether is actually about a person who makes a good president or do they have to be the least bad person (or at least seem to be).

While the scandal may seem tame by today’s standards, the play is set in the 1960’s it was something of a sensation. The idea of someone’s ability to do the job being judged on half truths or even outright lies is something worth exploring and reflecting on in the media circus of today. There are some great performances in Simon Evans’ slick and pacey production.

Martin Shaw is in fine form as political candidate Bill Russell. Shaw is always a solid and likeable performer who carries a sense of authority and gravitas. The supporting cast of Maureen Lipman, Jack Shepherd and Jeff Fahey are all excellent and capture Vidal’s dry, razor sharp wit and irony perfectly.

While the piece is not quite up to the West Wing’s levels of depth or dexterity, it has enough of a cynical edge to resonate with today. It keeps us guessing right up until the end and will connect more with a UK audience which has now become more well versed in American politics that our own.

Article filed under: Theatre News | Show Reviews |