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The Best Man Critics' Pick Staff Pick

When: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28 2008
Price: $40

In Gore Vidal's 1960 play The Best Man,ruthless rival Joseph Cantwell plans to smear presumptive presidential nominee William Russell, who is handed some explosive innuendo about Cantwell that he may have to compromise his principles to use. Largely made up of clever aphorisms woven together into windy civics speeches, the play and everyone in it sound a lot like Gore Vidal. Charles Shaw Robinson embodies the restrained poise and easy charm of an honest politician as Russell, and Charles Dean pours on the salty charm as ex-president Hockstader. Tim Kniffen is marvelously animated as Cantwell, who's crafty but not smart, although a little of his open-mouthed gormlessness goes a long way. Emilie Talbot feelingly captures serious-minded wife Alice Russell, and Deb Fink is a delight as preening Southern belle Mabel Cantwell. Through September 28 at AuroraTheatre(2081 Addison St., Berkeley) or 510-843-4822.

— Sam Hurwitt


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