Zachary Quinto and David Harewood to star as Gore Vidal and William F Buckley Jr in James Graham’s Best of Enemies

Zachary Quinto (The Boys in the Band, American Horror Story, Star Trek) will make his West End debut as Gore Vidal in James Graham’s (Sherwood, Quiz, This House) award-winning new play Best of Enemies opposite David Harewood (Homeland, Super Girl, Ten Percent) who is reprising his role as William F. Buckley Jr. 

Directed by Jeremy Herrin (People, Places & Things, Wolf Hall Trilogy, This House), Best of Enemies will begin previews at the Noël Coward Theatre on 14 November with an opening night on 28 November. This sold-out hit from the Young Vic Theatre and Headlong originally premiered at the Young Vic in December 2021. Tickets go on sale for priority bookers from Monday 5 September with tickets on general sale from 10am on Tuesday 6 September. Tickets start from £15 with over 30,000 at £35 and under available throughout the run. 

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…

Completing the cast are 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.

Written by James Graham and Directed by Jeremy Herrin, Best of Enemies is Designed by Bunny Christie, with Lighting Design by Jack Knowles, Sound Design by Tom Gibbons, Video Design by Max Spielbichler, Composition by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, Movement Direction by Shelley Maxwell, Casting by Charlotte Sutton CDG (UK) and Jim Carnahan CSA (US), Voice and Dialect by Hazel Holder and Associate Direction by Annie Kershaw.

Best of Enemies won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Best New Theatre Production and the Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best New Play and was also nominated for two Olivier Awards following its run at the Young Vic. This production is brought to the West End by Second Half Productions, Eleanor Lloyd Productions, Wessex Grove, the Young Vic Theatre and Headlong. Wagner Johnson Productions will be Executive Producers. 

David Harewood says:

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.”

Zachary Quinto says: 

“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.”  

James Graham says:

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 says:

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.”

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