John Lithgow in The Columnist: My Review

Categories: Theater

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A gay columnist on Broadway? I never signed a release.

Oh, wait. This one's closeted. Sort of.

David Auburn's The Columnist has John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop, the real-life Washington scribe who got a gay blackmail threat from the KGB but decided to trump them by taking the evidence to the FBI.

The '60s being a time of buried secrets, it never reached the public.

Alsop is portrayed as a paranoid but talented guy who's always looking for a conspiracy and often finds one.

His brother and fellow journalist, Stewart (Boyd Gaines), is his often frustrated protector while his wife (Margaret Colin) is getting tired of playing the beard, hoping Joe's "nature" might have changed with time so she could enjoy "the physical element."

It hasn't. He's still gay. And still paranoid. For good reason.

Interestingly, this is the second production this season (the Best Man revival being the other) in which gay evidence looms as a political weapon. Add the Man and Boy revival, in which a gay businessman is outsmarted by a power broker using sexual trickery, and you've got a lot of outing in the air, as shreds of personal lives hover over the upcoming election.

The Columnist, it turns out, is well-written, nicely designed, talky, and a little bit dull.

The whole show is Lithgow, who--in his gray suit, bow tie, and specs--gets to the heart of a man full of withering sarcasm, humor, jingoism, and rages.

He's terrific.

And I'm gladder than ever that I'm out of the closet.


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10 comments
Movielover
Movielover

Lithgow is really a fine actor.  I should go see this.  He is funny too.  But maybe not in this show.  He can be scary too!  But...maybe not in this show.

Capital Cat
Capital Cat

Notice how the GOP didn't start gay bashing until Joe Alsop, J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn were all safely dead and rotting in hell?

corrective_unconscious
corrective_unconscious

How do we know Alsop didn't actually get an outing threat from the FBI disguised to look like a threat from the KGB?

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

This brings up an interesting idea.

A one man show about and starring -- MICHAEL MUSTO!

Titles, please,

"MUSTO WITH GUSTO"

"FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE!"

"THE MOUTH THAT ROARED"

"BITCH ON A BIKE"

More, more!

Allen Firth
Allen Firth

What I like about your reviews is that they are concise.  You cut to the chase:  what's right about it, what's wrong about it, and nice little asides along the way.  Now, can you please be on the Tony nominating committee (considering you are the one of the few who has seen every show that has opened this season!).

Bway
Bway

Sounds like it's worth it for Lithgow alone. Loved him in so many things, like Sweet Smell and, before that, M Butterfly.

Starfruit
Starfruit

"I never signed a release," lol.

Charla
Charla

Well, a lot of gaybashers and homophobes are closet gays, so I'm not sure that theory pans out.

Musto
Musto

I like Bitch on a Bike.

Musto
Musto

Thank you, Allen. Can't wait to see what the committee comes up with next week.

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