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The Best Man on this week at Cambridge Arts Theatre

By Caroline Harland

The Best Man
The Best Man

This tense political thriller, making its debut on the UK stage, stars Martin Shaw and Jeff Fahey.

Martin Shaw
Martin Shaw

Written by Gore Vidal and set in Philadelphia during the presidential primaries of the summer of 1960, The Best Man won a Tony Award for Best Actor in Play - for Melvyn Douglas' portrayal of Secretary William Russell.

This time, it is Martin Shaw - known for his roles in popular television series such as The Professionals, Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently - who takes on the role, leading the cast in a play about the race to the White House.

Two opposing presidential party candidates are neck and neck in a battle for the nomination. The only thing that separates the ex-Secretary of State and his populist opponent is an endorsement from a respected ex-president.

Populist southern senator Joseph Cantwell (Fahey) is a 'bigot and a charlatan', while William Russell, who prides himself on his honesty, is the 'likable' liberal candidate,

Both try to get the endorsement of the popular outgoing president, who enjoys not telling them which one he'll lend his support to.

Although some people might be put off by the term 'political thriller', this engaging and often funny piece is easy to follow and has much to enjoy, particularly in the interplay between the two main characters.

The very experienced Shaw is impressive as Russell, though does seem to slightly lose his American accent at times.

Overall this is a great play and I would advise anyone with an interest in the cut-throat world of politics - American or otherwise - to head down to the Arts Theatre and see it.

The Best Man is on at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, October 21.

Tickets are £23-£45 and include a £3 per-ticket booking fee.



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