Dead Kennedys Star In Political Comedy

The Best Man, Playhouse Theatre ★★★☆☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 45 months ago

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Dead Kennedys Star In Political Comedy The Best Man, Playhouse Theatre 3
Photo: Pamela Raith

A good old-fashioned play about good old-fashioned politics. Gore Vidal's 1960s satire is based around the Democratic convention where in reality JFK won his nomination. Each of Vidal's contenders — Martin Shaw's patrician, womanising front runner versus Jeff Fahy's angry younger slugger — has a prime piece of dirt to smear on his opponent and it's a race to the line to see who will or won't use it.

Although political comedy is sharper since The Thick of It and Veep, there's charm in watching The Best Man's equally vicious plot unfold at a gentler pace, especially with so many them-off-the-telly cameo performances to enjoy.

Jack Shepherd's doddery but conniving ex-President is a gem, as is Maureen Lipman's sardonic campaign veteran who holds 'the women's vote' in her tightly clasped handbag. As the candidates' partners, Glynis Barber is just gorgeous and way outshines Honeysuckle Weeks' clumsy Texan blonde.

There are some cracking lines about what a President should or shouldn't be that have an added layer of wry mirth for anyone following the current melodramas in Washington. Lipman's advice: "Don't be too smart, have an inoffensive wife, and don't ever get into an argument about your mental health", is the best of the night.

The Best Man, Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5DE, £15-£95. [Monday-Saturday] Until 12 May.

Last Updated 08 March 2018