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James Graham puts political pundits centre stage in the Young Vic’s new season

·2-min read
<p>A poster for Best of Enemies at the Young Vic showing US political pundits Gore Vidal and William F Buckley</p> (Young Vic)

A poster for Best of Enemies at the Young Vic showing US political pundits Gore Vidal and William F Buckley

(Young Vic)

Award-winning playwright James Graham is turning his attention to the birth of political punditry in a new play at the Young Vic.

The show, Best of Enemies, is one of a new season of work announced at the Waterloo venue which is preparing to open its doors again as the capital emerges from lockdown.

Graham, whose sell-out West End hits Labour of Love and This House have explored the inner workings of the British political system, sets his new play in 1968 America, where a fierce presidential election was fought against a backdrop of civil rights protests and the war in Vietnam.

It revolves around a series of TV debates between liberal novelist Gore Vidal and conservative writer William F Buckley who challenged each other’s beliefs and swapped witty insults in a series of televised debates watched by millions of voters.

The play, which opens in December, follows performances of Hamlet with Cush Jumbo in the starring role and a new play by Booker Prize winner Ben Okri based on a 4,000-year-old Egyptian poem.

Directed by Young Vic boss Kwame Kwei-Armah, Okri’s play also features the work of architect Sir David Adjaye who will be in charge of set and costume design for the show.

Kwame Kwei-ArmahAaron Imuere
Kwame Kwei-ArmahAaron Imuere

Kwei-Armah said: “This pandemic has wielded an unquantifiable wound to theatre makers and theatres, the repercussions of which we will continue to feel for a long time. We have seen a year of racial reckoning reverberate through our sector, a cry of pain and a call to do better.

“To announce a new season of work fills my heart with optimism, as it comes with the hope that artists can return to their craft, and as we rebuild, we improve on what was good, and take time to undo the broken systems and structures.

“My message with this new season is Welcome Back and Welcome Home. The Young Vic is a civic centre and a home-away-from-home for our community. It is a space for us to hear extraordinary stories told by the world’s finest artists that help us see the world through someone else’s eyes.

“With Ben Okri’s Changing Destiny and Shakespeare’s Hamlet we bring you the tales you thought you knew, and present them afresh. These stories have withstood the test of time because they continue speak to what it means to be human, and I believe now, more than ever, they deliver messages we need to hear. We also bring you bold work to illuminate our present.

“Our co-production with Headlong, Best of Enemies is a new play from James Graham that places its fingers on the political pulse of 1960s America, but could not feel more current today.”

Tickets go on sale to the public on Thursday May 27 at 12pm

Read More

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Kwame Kwei-Armah interview: 'I think we'll talk about this moment the way we talk about 1968'

Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini - review

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