THE BEST MAN

by Gore Vidal

The Footlight Players

Charleston, South Carolina

October 2004

‘The Best Man’ timely, well-acted

BY DOTTIE ASHLEY

Post & Courier Reviewer 10/08/04

It is 1960 when a fictitious political convention is held in Philadelphia. One candidate wants to keep the campaigns free of accusations of past personal improprieties; the other candidate is hot into personal mudslinging.

“Gore Vidal’s The Best Man,” which opened at the Footlight Players on Thursday in a killer production directed by Steve Lepre, should be required viewing for every voter during the play’s run at various times through Oct. 24. Not only is the subject obviously a timely one, but it shows how 44 years ago Vidal made a devastating prediction that has become all too true in this election season.

Lepre has assembled a cast of sterling actors led by the marvelous Hal Truesdale as former President Hockstader, who brings to perfect pitch every intonation, every inflection, every nuance of the ultimate politician.

Equally adroit is Chris Dowling as William Russell, the liberal, patrician ex-secretary of state, who worries that mudslinging will corrupt the process. As his opponent Joe Cantwell, a brash, religious man who admires J. Edgar Hoover and has used McCarthy-like tactics in the Senate, the talented Todd Ashby makes us despise Cantwell almost as much as we do his obnoxious wife Mabel, played by Kimbi Lee Glenn.

In contrast, Libby Campbell is ideal as the genteel, perceptive Alice Russell, who still loves her husband in spite of his infidelities.

Others who deserve special praise are Ann Israel, marvelous as an influential national committee woman, and Dick Lathem, who ratchets up the tension as Russell’s campaign manager. To savor the talents of others, come to 20 Queen St., and catch the show.