Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Politics and Pokmon Light Up Broadway Marquees

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Politics and Pokmon Light Up Broadway Marquees

Article excerpt

OK, so the current US presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush may be a bit dull. But old- fashioned political drama - as well as comedy and melodrama - is alive and well on Broadway in the star-studded revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 Tony-nominated play "The Best Man."

The play - retitled Gore Vidal's The Best Man and showing at the Virginia Theatre through Dec. 31 - was also made into a hit movie with Henry Fonda in 1964.

Vidal's playbook was inspired in part by the real-life political battle between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Its behind-the- scenes glimpses of deception and honor are not just intriguing but electric, character-driven theater.

It stars Spalding Gray as a patrician and sporadically principled US Secretary of State who is running against Chris Noth, a colorful, rougher-hewn US Senator whose blind ambition seems to give him the upper hand in the White House bid. "Gore Vidal's The Best Man" is set almost entirely in hotel suites during a national political convention. It's placed in an era when these conventions still packed plenty of surprises.

As the candidates battle for the nomination and try to retain their integrity - while alternately plotting to reveal each other's secret pasts - Charles Durning as the current US president fights for both his life (his character is dying in the play) and his legacy. Will his support of one particular candidate be politics as usual or a renewal of his own best instincts as a politician and a human being? And to his immense acting credit, Mr. Durning's performance ranks right up with Brian Dennehy's in the outstanding revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" last season.

"I love this play. It's real theater. It doesn't shout at you like 'Cats,' " Playbill online writer David Lefkowitz said happily during a preview performance of "Best Man."

And together, Durning, Gray, and Noth are three of the best actors Broadway has seen in a long time. …

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