A new production of The Best Man, Gore Vidal’s acclaimed drama about ambition, political scandal, ruthlessness and the race for the White House, is set to play the Theatre Royal in Bath this month.
With a stellar cast led by Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed, Inspector George Gently, The Professionals), the production will appear from Monday 9th to Saturday 14th October.
The company also features Gemma Jones (Spooks, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Harry Potter films), Jeff Fahey (Lost), Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe, Bill Brand), Glynis Barber (Dempsey and Makepeace, EastEnders), Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s War) and Anthony Howell (Foyle’s War).
As the repercussions from the recent American and UK elections rumble on, Vidal’s drama of dirty politics never seemed more real or relevant. At a time of political chaos, The Best Man mirrors the often surprising results of campaigning and the unscrupulous world of politics.
Neck and neck in a fierce battle for the nomination, the only thing that separates two opposing presidential party candidates, William Russell, the esteemed former Secretary of State (played by Martin Shaw) and Joseph Cantwell, his newcomer populist opponent (Jeff Fahey) are endorsements from a respected former President (Jack Shepherd) and party big-wig (Gemma Jones).
As the race heats up the campaigns gets personal, involving Russell’s estranged wife Alice (Glynis Barber) and Cantwell’s wife Mabel (Honeysuckle Weeks) whilst drawing on all the resources of Russell’s campaign manager (Anthony Howell). But where does compromise end and corruption begin?
How far will the two candidates go to be the most powerful leader in the world and who in the end will prove to be “the best man”?
Born into a distinguished political family, Gore Vidal was a prolific writer, known for the wit which peppered his screenplays, novels, essays and Broadway plays. Amongst his most famous works are Myra Breckinridge and Lincoln.
The Best Man premiered on Broadway in 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Play. Vidal adapted it into a film with the same title in 1964 starring Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, and Lee Tracy who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the ex-President.
The play received a major revival on Broadway in 2012 starring James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury, and earned two Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Play.
One of the UK’s most respected actors, Martin Shaw, is known to millions of television viewers for his lead roles in Inspector George Gently and Judge John Deed, and for starring as Bodie opposite Lewis Collins in The Professionals.
On television, he also played lead roles in The Chief and Rhodes; Horatio in Hamlet alongside Richard Chamberlain, John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave; Captain Scott in the series The Last Place on Earth; and Jack Butcher in the Italia Prize-winning Cream in My Coffee by Dennis Potter.
Some of the many highlights in his extensive stage career have included Saturday, Sunday, Monday opposite Laurence Olivier for the National Theatre; The Battle of Shrivings alongside John Gielgud in the West End; and Sir Peter Hall’s production of An Ideal Husband on Broadway, for which he was Tony Award-nominated and won the coveted New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award.
His recent West End credits include Hobson’s Choice, which opened in Bath in 2016; a record-breaking run of Twelve Angry Men; The Country Girl, which played Bath in 2010; and A Man for All Seasons, which also toured to Bath in 2005.
The Best Man is directed by Simon Evans whose credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and Silence of the Seas at the Donmar Warehouse; Rubber Room at London’s Old Vic and Madness in Valencia at Trafalgar Studios.
Simon has also worked as Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse, Staff Director at the National and Creative Associate at the Bush Theatre.
Tickets for The Best Man are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and via www.theatreroyal.org.uk.