Review: Hillary and Clinton, starring Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow
When you flip a coin five times in a row, you get a random order of heads or tails. If you kept flipping the coin an infinite number of times, that order would likely repeat. There are an infinite number of possibilities, and in that vein, an infinite number of planet Earths, and an infinite number of realities. This metaphor of flipping a coin for an infinite number of Earths is the opening of Lucas Hnath's play Hillary and Clinton. It is Laurie Metcalf as Hillary who introduces the audience to this idea, before telling us that on the version of planet Earth we are about to see, it is January 2008. And in a hotel room in New Hampshire, a woman named Hillary is campaigning during the Democratic primary.
The hotel room in question, is simply a white box with two doors, a spinning desk chair, and a fridge. And it is in this room that Hillary, her husband Bill (John Lithgow), her campaign manager Mark (Zak Orth), and, by the end of the show, her opponent Barack (Peter Francis James), all face off as they handle the situation in New Hampshire.
While none of the actors are there to impersonate their real-life counterparts, the show is grounded in truth. Indeed, each actor is giving a good performance. However the way it is staged, in what is largely an empty box, with characters often standing many feet apart, they feel like they could be in totally different worlds.
Hnath's writing is very wordy, and in some moments the dialogue feels senseless or awkward. While the basis of the play is good, the idea does not grow enough to fill this abnormally large and empty hotel room, leaving you with a lot of words to focus on and absorb, and not much to help you do so.