Last night Manhattan Theatre Club’s most recent production The Columnist opened and last week I took in a performance at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre starring the impeccable John Lithgow. The Columnist was about a closeted conservative Washington DC columnist during the 1960’s who was doing everything in his power to lead the conservative party ahead with his writing.
It’s very much a period piece; an interesting one at that though it may have gone on fifteen or twenty minutes too long. John Lithgow gave a superb performance as per usual as the columnist Joseph Alsop I was also very impressed with Gracie Gummer as his daughter Abigail. She matured believably through the years with ease. Mentions must also be made for the wonderful Boyd Gaines as Lithgow’s brother, Stewart Alsop, and Margaret Colin as Susan Mary Alsop, Lithgow’s wife (and beard, so to speak).
After a scandal surround him surfaces, Joseph ends up a lonely old man with only his daughter around him when he passes, a depressing ending to be sure. I enjoyed The Columnist because it was educational romp through the 1960’s, an era I’m always fascinated with.
A history lesson as well as a lesson in hypocrisy in two acts, The Columnist is another fine work produced by Manhattan Theatre Club.