July 6, 2012

The Columnist

The Columnist stars the great John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop, a journalist from the 1930s who had the ear of powerful men in Washington, D.C. right into the 1970s, including JFK.  The play begins with a startling image, a half naked man who had just had sex with a much younger man in the Soviet Union.  Post-coitus, he is at ease, discussing his views on the Soviets, politics, and revealing his general contempt for most humans. The encounter ends after the Russian leaves for work, and the KGB comes a-knockin' on the hotel room door.  Now the Russians have a weapon against the "beloved and feared" American.
The play follows Alsop throughout the turbulent '60s, maintaining his rigid political views while battling personal issues.  Mr. Lithgow is brilliant as the autocratic,opinionated political analyst who always seemed to have a clever put-down for everybody.  (That means plenty of laughs for us viewers.)  He does briefly show some genuine human emotions when JFK is assassinated, and towards the end.

Boyd Gaines plays his brother Stewart, who had co-written a newspaper column with him early on in their careers.  Stewart is a kind, protective sibling whose efforts to reach out to the egotistical Joe is rebuffed time and again.  Especially when those incriminating photos resurface. 
John Lithgow's car. 

The show also stars Grace Gummer as Abigail, Susan's daughter.  Marc  Bonan has a short role as Philip, her boyfriend who gets terrorized at a Thanksgiving dinner with some political heavy hitters.  Stephen Kunken is Halberstam, the younger New York Times reporter who disagreed with Alsop's staunchly pro-Vietnam war stance and writing.
Margaret Colin as Susan Mary, the well-intentioned wife who knowingly married the closeted homosexual reporter but whose love and support are also repeatedly rejected.
Brian J. Smith as Andrei, the KGB agent who helped frame Joe Alsop.
at the stage door
The show has been extended until 08 July 2012.

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