Martin Shaw is heading back to the West End in the London premiere of Gore Vidal’s sharp political drama, The Best Man, at The Playhouse Theatre, from February 24.
Written and produced on Broadway nearly 60 years ago, long before the election battle of Trump vs Clinton, The Best Man never achieved a West End transfer at the time because it was thought that American politics were of no interest to London audiences.
Martin Shaw is William Russell, esteemed ex-Secretary of State and US presidential candidate, with something of a philandering reputation.
Jeff Fahey is Joseph Cantwell, an ambitious populist newcomer, opposing Russell for the party nomination.
Running neck and neck, the only thing that might separate the candidates are endorsements from a respected Ex-President (Jack Shepherd) and party big-wig (Maureen Lipman).
The campaign gets personal as the race heats up, with Russell’s estranged wife Alice (Glynis Barber) and Cantwell’s wife Mabel (Honeysuckle Weeks) at its heart.
But where does compromise end and corruption begin? How far will they each go to become the most powerful man in the world? And who in the end will be proven to be “the best man”?
The play, produced by Bill Kenwright, which enjoyed a brief regional tour last autumn, mirrors the often surprising results of campaigning, and the all-too-often unscrupulous world of politics.
Leading the cast is Martin Shaw who is best known to TV audiences for the title-roles in Judge John Deed, Inspector George Gently and The Professionals.
His leading-man, West End, stage roles have included Twelve Angry Men, A Man For All Seasons and The Country Girl directed by Rufus Norris.
Directed by Simon Evans, The Best Man runs at The Playhouse Theatre from February 24 to May 12.