Friday, June 01, 2012

Broadgay Highlights...

Had a chance to disengage for a few days last week and head off to New York City to take in some legit the-aterrr.
And this is what I saw:

"The Best Man", a revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 drama about the backstage politics at a presidential nomination convention that features extended supporting turns by James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury.
Who knew that in their eighth decade such an accomplished pair of actors would shamelessly caper, cavort, mug & upstage the leads out a pure thirst for thunderous applause?
I sh*t you not about that applause, Jones and Lansbury's every entrance and exit is greeted by prolonged adulatory clapping.
Alas Candice Bergen, comes in very little of this, she has to get by with being merely excellent in every way.
As I said, it is all very shameless and at times overshadows the contest between the lead characters (John "Night Court" Larroquette and Eric "Will & Grace" McCormack)as a Former US Secretary of State and a US Senator who traffic in accusations of homosexuality and mental illness on their way to an un-named party's presidential nomination circa 1960 or so.
Nonetheless, it is fine revival in every way, we often forget Gore Vidal's talent for witty dialogue and prophetic political set-ups.
Now, to hear Vidal tell it, the play was a sort of meditation on the emerging 1960 presidential contest between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. I myself have always suspect that the whole thing was really about the internal GOP rivalry between then Vice President Nixon and New York's Governor Nelson Rockefeller both of whom clashed in the GOP presidential primaries that year.
Nonetheless it was well worth it, how many more times can you see Angela Lanbury shamelessly upstage five other actors in one go or see James Earl Jones play a blusterly ex-president and come off a little bit like Teddy Roosevelt in the process?
See it, it is strong in the hind legs and well worth your time.

The Columnist: I had to take the Acela to Manhattan to find out that the late Joseph Alsop was gay.
I have no defense either I have a master's degree in political science...You'd a thought it would have come up during all those discussions about the Viet Nam War??!
Anyhow this is another winner, John Lithgow is freakin' amazin' as the erudite, witty painfully uptight Alsop who is tormented by the fact that he had to reveal his homosexuality to the FBI in order to forestall an attempt to blackmail him by the KGB.
So tormented is he, that the columnist works himself into a anti-communist frenzy banging the pots for war in Viet Nam even as the elite Washington strata he inhabits cracks crumbles and disintegrates.
Alsop was a bastard, and Lithogw plays him as such but a human even humane bastard, a man whose sexuality prevents him from embracing the past and whose politics prevent him from facing the future with any poise.
As bad as Alsop was, I almost miss him, who stands in his place?
That shameless shill George Will? Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh...Laura "Hollow Leg" Ingraham...a gruesome unwholesome lot to be sure. If Alsop was alive he'd never invite any of them to one of his elite dinner parties no matter how much they might agree with him.
So basically I spent forty eight hours on Broadway immersed in the politics of homosexuality circa 1960...

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