Bill Clinton was one of America’s glowing presidents, a shining democrat in the fashion of Jimmy Carter and even America’s beloved JFK. But after the scandal with Monica Lewinsky, Clinton’s lasting legacy has been cemented by that one infamous quote, ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’. However, there was much more to President Clinton than the stain he left on his intern’s dress. Bill Clinton Hercules is a fascinating one man show that is at once a personal ode to Bill Clinton and an indictment of modern politics filtered through a curious classical intrigue.
Bill Clinton Hercules is a swan song to the former President and an intelligent meditation on the decay of modern politics.
According to ‘Bubba’ himself, every year the former president reads Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek play Philoctetes in which the deified Hercules appears to convince the Greeks to make peace with each other to achieve victory through unity. This is the democratic notion that the play’s Clinton believes in and it is this Hercules to whom the character relates and wishes to personify. ‘I am Hercules’ says Paisley’s Bill Clinton as he talks about global conflicts and America’s role in them. His ultimate desire is for peace, even if it must be sought through conflict.
There’s much more to this play than simple hero worship. It’s a personal examination of Bill Clinton and of the changing nature of politics from the latter years of the 20th century to the present day. Bob Paisley’s performance is very strong; he appropriately exudes sentiment, regret, wisdom and pride during every moment of Rachel Mariner’s brilliant script, and his Clinton impersonation is spot on. Mariner has done her homework and the play is very intelligent and very well informed, gleaning much of its personal content from Clinton’s autobiography. When the play jumps from Clinton’s personal life to American politics of the past, present and future, the observations made are razor sharp and the criticisms piercing.
Smart, funny, moving and exceptionally current, it is fantastically written with a most Bill-thentic performance from Paisley and assured direction from Guy Masterson. Bill Clinton Hercules is a swan song to the former President and an intelligent meditation on the decay of modern politics. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking play that should not be missed.