The show had an acclaimed world premiere season at the Young Vic Theatre, garnering great reviews from the critics. The play also won the South Bank Sky Arts Award 2022 for Best New Theatre Production, the Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best New Play and scooped two Olivier Award Nominations.
The show will head into the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre from 14 November 2022 for a 14 week season until 18 February 2022.
Zachary Quinto (The Boys in the Band, Star Trek, Heroes) will play Gore Vidal, alongside David Harewood (Homeland, Super Girl, Ten Percent) reprising his role as the right-wing figurehead William F. Buckley.
The cast also includes Deborah Alli, Emilio Doorgasingh, Clare Foster, Tom Godwin, John Hodgkinson, Syrus Lowe, Kevin McMonagle and Sam Otto who will each perform multiple roles within the play including Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, Patricia Buckley, Howard Austen, Aretha Franklin and Martin Luther-King. The ensemble includes David Boyle, Lincoln Conway, Vivienne Ekwulugo, Jamie Hogarth and Saaj Raja.
The play was strongly tipped for a Broadway run, which has now been heightened by the casting of Quinto, who was last on Broadway in 2018 in Boys in the Band.
Quinto told the press that: “Living and working in London has long been an aspiration of mine. But to be making my West End debut in such a thrilling and relevant play – amongst such a distinguished creative team – and playing such a scorching and complex character as Gore Vidal – far exceeds my expectations of what living and working in London would look like… I’m full of gratitude and excitement. Best of Enemies harkens back to a vital time – when genuine discourse was possible from even the most opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. My hope is that such discourse may be once again rekindled in response to the work itself.”
David Harewood said: “I consider Best of Enemies to be one of the most enjoyable and challenging experiences of my whole career and I cannot wait to once again get under the skin of this uniquely complex character. Jeremy’s brilliant direction and James’s wonderful script combine to give both actor and audience a stimulating, thought-provoking and wildly entertaining evening out and I’m counting down the days to performing this show again in the West End.”
James Graham said: “To be given the opportunity to bring new writing to the West End is always a thrill. Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s original hit documentary about the televised debates between Buckley and Vidal in the 1960s, and their surprise influence on our politics and media today, enraptured me when I first saw it. It’s been an honour to take inspiration from their work to create this drama for the stage. We’re living through another “1968 moment” right now – that same spirit of protest, resistance, and a thirst for change; of political polarisation and toxicity, all of which was the backdrop to the clash between these two men live in front of the world. Working with Jeremy again, and having the epic talents of this cast – led by David and Zach, fighting it out every night on the Noel Coward stage – is such an exciting prospect, I can’t wait.”
Jeremy Herrin said: “One of the privileges of running Headlong was being able to get the rights to Neville and Gordon’s pertinent documentary, and to persuade James Graham to bring his singular vision and regular wit to yet another of our collaborations. Kwame Kwei-Armah inspired and supported our production at the Young Vic. It’s great to bring our talented ensemble to one of the West End’s best playhouses at the Noel Coward Theatre to thrill a broad audience with plenty of affordable tickets. We are honoured that one of the US’s finest actors Zachary Quinto will join forces, and trade blows, with David Harewood, a multi hyphenate homegrown star worthy of celebration. The story of these two nuanced and charismatic men speaks as engagingly of contemporary politics and punditry as it does of the turmoil of 1968, and I can’t wait to take the production to the next level.”
Charles Edwards (The Crown, Downton Abbey, The Power of the Rings) originated the role of Gore Vidal at the Young Vic.
The play is set in 1968 – a year of protest that divided America. As two men fight to become the next President, all eyes are on the battle between two others: the cunningly conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and the iconoclastic liberal Gore Vidal. Beliefs are challenged and slurs slung as these political idols feud nightly in a new television format, debating the moral landscape of a shattered nation. Little do they know they’re about to open up a new frontier in American politics, and transform television news forever…
James Graham has become one of the UK’s most acclaimed stage and screen writers, with TV work including recent BBC hit Sherwood, plus Quiz, and Brexit: The Uncivil War. Theatre credits include Ink, This House, Labour of Love, and the forthcoming Almeida Theatre show about Tammy Faye written with Elton John and Jake Shears.
The creative team includes Director Jeremy Herrin; Designer Bunny Christie; Lighting Designer Jack Knowles; Sound Designer Tom Gibbons; Video Designer Max Spielbichler; Composer Benjamin Kwasi Burrell; Movement Director Shelley Maxwell; Casting Charlotte Sutton CDG (UK) and Jim Carnahan CSA (US); Voice and Dialect Coach Hazel Holder; and Associate Director Annie Kershaw.
The play is produced by Second Half Productions, Eleanor Lloyd Productions, Wessex Grove, Young Vic Theatre and Headlong.