Michael Levin, Robb Report Singapore’s New York correspondent, talks Hillary and Clinton, Broadway’s hottest new show that stars John Lithgow and Laurie Metcalf as America’s most intriguing political couple
Set in an alternate universe, Hillary and Clinton is focused around the events that surround the 2008 Democratic Primary in New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton, in her hotel room with her pollster Mark Penn, is contemplating her recent loss in the Iowa caucuses and her likely drubbing in the first-in-the-nation primary in the Granite State.
To turn the clock back to 2008, Hillary was then engaged in a brutal struggle with the barely known Illinois Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama won, of course, and Clinton had to wait eight more years for her chance to run for President again, against Donald Trump. And we all know how that turned out.
But all that is in the unimaginable future. In Hillary And Clinton, we enjoy the delicious feeling of eavesdropping on this famous couple, seeing how the Clintons really got along, spoke with each other, squabbled, and then kissed, and made up. Their relationship? It’s complicated, to say the least.
Hillary speaks of what it’s like to be in the shadow of a larger-than-life public figure who was famously, even notoriously, less than a stellar husband. Bill cannot stop being himself – uncontrollable, brilliant, frustrating, and when it comes to politics, a true genius.
It doesn’t matter whether you were with Hillary or dead set opposed to her when she ran in 2016. Playwright Lucas Hnath’s brilliantly written script may not make you fall in love with Hillary, but you certainly get a much deeper understanding of who she really is – what drives her, what holds her back, and how quickly and ruthlessly she can turn on a dime if it benefits her political career.
The show takes just 90 minutes and is performed without an intermission. It goes by like a flash. It leaves you wondering what might have happened if Hillary had taken Bill’s advice, so freely offered by the former President in the show and, no doubt, in real life.
What if she had humanised herself to a greater degree, instead of keeping her emotions in check, lest she be devastated yet again by the news media and late night TV comics? Could she have beaten Obama if she had listened to Bill? If she had listened to Bill, the play makes us ask, would her victory have felt hollow and perhaps even meaningless?
“Limited run” means that the play, unless extended, closes on 21 July 2019. If you’re headed to New York, buy your tickets as soon as you can. And if you’re not headed to New York, maybe it’s time to take a trip so that you can experience the fascination of Hillary and Clinton for yourself.