James Graham’s stirring new play Best of Enemies makes the move from the Young Vic to the Noël Coward Theatre
“One side of his mouth has decided to enjoy something without telling the other”
Not much new to say about the strapping Best of Enemies that I didn’t cover in its original run at the Young Vic. Nearly a year down the line, it has transferred to the West End at the Noël Coward Theatre, with Zachary Quinto stepping in for Charles Edwards as Gore Vidal opposite the returning David Harewood as William F. Buckley Jr. And it remains a corking piece of theatre, further cementing James Graham as one of our finest writers.
His gift is to fully immerse his audiences in his subject and lavish us with enough context, knowledge and insight to make us feel like we’ve learned something, in the best possible way, even if it a topic about which you were scarcely aware before. In this case, it is the TV debates in the run-up to the US 1968 Presidential election under the spotlight, but it is contemporary US politics, culture wars and celebrity that is under the microscope.
Harewood is excellent once again as the egotistical rightwing conservative and Quinto is an abrasive revelation as his cruelly waspish if witty liberal counterpart who between them, reinvigorated the very notion of TV political punditry and perhaps unwittingly ushered in the potential ruin of the political system itself. Jeremy Herrin’s production remains a visual treat, particularly in Bunny Christie’s design, and is a pleasingly bold choice for the West End.