The (Very) Best Man
Last night we had house seats courtesy of buddy Kim Wilkerson to “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.” What a wonderful recovery from the drudging “Once” the night prior.
Although the work is 50 years old, watching this play about a nominating convention, during the actual, current Democratic Convention, was riveting. And to watch James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Elizabeth Ashley, John Stamos, and Kristin Davis is to understand what great writing and acting can do (Cybil Shepherd was not in this performance).
There were two intermissions over three hours that shot by as we watched the political front runner confront the mud of his rival and decide whether he should respond in kind. How much was the nomination worth? My reaction is that a half century after the plot was written, I can’t imagine modern politicians hesitating for a moment to use any mud they can find or create.
The play recreated the zeitgeist of the times, with black and white TV coverage of the convention, back room pols, and on-air reporters speaking through a constant stream of cigarette smoke.
The play ends its run this weekend, and I’m glad we were able to see it. James Earl Jones is 81, and is as good or better than ever, stealing any scene he’s a part of. “If he can do that at his age,” whispered my wife, “you have a lot of years ahead of you….”
© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.