Every four years in America there is this little thing called The Presidential Elections. Every year I find myself more and more frustrated at the lack of change in our political culture. Go back 40 years and every election cycle boils down to the same three or four topics –Sex, Abortion, Taxes, and sometimes War.
The tenor of the debate ends up containing the same tired buzzwords. Never has this been more evident than in the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s political satire The Best Man. The really fun, but really sad thing about this production is that producer Jeffrey Richards and his team revived the show without modernizing any of the dialog. This production is essentially the original 1960s version.
In this context watching the play makes me feel like we’re in a time warp, or at the very least never left that time. The same issues that were fought and argued about in the '60s are still being debated. You would think we’d be fighting over regulations for flying cars by now or whether to put settlements on Mars...Oh, wait. Hey, Newt! Something, anything, other than tax cuts, abortion, and gay rights.
Eric McCormack of Will and Grace fame (I never watched the show) is amazing here as a brash over-the-top politician who will do anything to win. His line deliveries contain a strong cadence and rhythm that makes you want to strangle him. He is the smooth, fast-talking politician we all want to hate. His wife Mabel Cantwell (Kerry Butler) as the Southern Belle is just as wonderfully trashy as he is.
Every time the show cuts between the Cantwells and their chief political rivals, the old-school Secretary of State William Russell (John Larroquette) and his demure unassuming wife Alice Russell (Candice Bergen), you really see the stark contrast in generational styles.