A Shiny Life For Me!

a personal review blog by Bianca

Best of Enemies

Best Of Enemies
15 November 2022
Noel Coward Theatre
5.0 out of 5.0 stars

As I often do with theatre, I went into this play without knowing anything about the topic. I like going to see shows without reading up about them at all, so I can experience the show without any expectations. In this case, it meant having to spend the first few minutes figuring out what was happening on stage, but it quickly started making sense once the scene was set.

1968 in America, the nation is divided through months of protests and political friction. As two presidential candidates gear up for the next election, William Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal go head to head in a nightly political debate on live TV.

Zachary Quinto and David Harewood are fantastic as Vidal and Buckly respectively, fully inhabiting their roles and infusing them with character and personality. Vidal, left-wing icon and exuberant entity, challenges right-wing morality-touting Buckley to his core, using his own words against him, while Buckley tries to diminish Vidal by ridiculing him and exposing him in front of the audience.

It’s a fascinating play, cutting from live debate to private hotel room, showing the outward conviction as well as the deeply personal struggle of both personalities to prepare for the next round, gathering information, being built up by their closest loved ones and advisors.

It’s a bit like witnessing the birth of reality TV live on stage.

I wasn’t completely convinces by the few moments of breaking the fourth wall, when several characters speak directly to the audience to explain a situation or indicate the meaning of a specific event or statement. I personally found this to be somewhat unnecessary, almost breaking the immersion in the story.

However, this is a very small niggle in a brilliant show that I can only recommend very highly!

Interestingly, we had two people sitting next to us who I can only assume are on the opposite side of the political spectrum to myself and my friend, as they had completely opposing reactions to ours. When we laughed, they scoffed. When we sneered, they chuckled. It was good to see that this show appeals to both sides equally as it doesn’t take sides, but merely documents.

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