Set in various rooms in a Philadelphia hotel during fictional Presidential primaries, it focuses on the behind-the-scenes machinations and game playing which are part of getting elected. In the lead, and pitted against each other for the nomination, are Secretary of State William Russell (“A Cool Head in A Dangerous World”) and Jeff Fahey’s populist Senator Joseph Cantwell (billing himself as “The Man To Trust” but, with his fake tan and bullish manner looking anything but), both hoping for the endorsement of out-going president Hockstader – a sly old bird who isn’t giving anything away.
Martin Shaw is the epitome of privilege and restraint as the intellectual Russell, a fundamentally decent man whose otherwise admirable principles have, though, long fallen short of fidelity to his estranged wife (Glynis Barber) who, for appearances sake – and the chance to become First Lady – has returned to stand loyally by his side. Maureen Lipman adds a masterly comic cameo as an influential party member who knows just what will attract the female vote, whilst Honeysuckle Weeks as Cantwell’s tippling, trophy wife is every bit as determined as her self-made spouse.
And, in this exposé of just how much mud it is safe to sling in the fight to get to the White House, Jack Shepherd is superb as the seriously ailing Hockstader, still passionate about politics and visibly invigorated by the prospect of a battle – dirty or otherwise.
Playhouse, Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5DE
Tube: Embankment / Charing Cross
Until 26th May 2018
Tickets £15.00 – £75.00 (+premium seats)