Thursday, April 25, 2013

Frost Nixon


In the Mandell Theater in the Lowdes Shakespeare Center,"Frost Nixon" written by Peter Morgan is being performed through April 28th. Stephan Jones does an astonishing performance as Nixon. His performance isn't a satirical caricature but an honest look at a man with insecurities and pride. As a elementary school student I used to enjoy doing political cartoons of Nixon so from an early age I understood his charisma. Timothy Williams performs as David Frost, a talk show host looking to score the biggest interview of his career. John Bateman as James Reston acts as the narrator who has had a long time desire to see Nixon admit and repent for his wrong doing. In a humorous moment he meets his long time nemesis and he goes mute and shakes Nixon's hand. Nixon turned smugly away with his best attempt at a grin.

The interview itself was like a prize boxing match with Nixon evading question with his long winded rope-a-dope memories and effusive tales. In the first round Frost sits back overwhelmed and exhausted by the ex-presidents long winded and empty answers. The actual interview went on for hours but it is thankfully edited down for the stage production. The interview is cut into four bouts and by the end it seemed like Nixon was a bull that wanted to feel the pain of the matador's sword.

After the show, the cast assembled on stage for a question and answer session with the audience. Director John DiDonna asked theater reviewer Steve Schneider to join them on stage. Steve wrote a glowing review of the performance but hated the historical inaccuracies of the play. He stated that Nixon never admitted to the Watergate cover up and any younger audience members might accept the play at truth. Artists have a responsibility to present the truth. He equated it to journalistic integrity. Going to the theater to learn history is like going to "The Daily Show" to get the news. John asked a class full of college students, "Who is Nixon?" Only three students raised their hands. The play offered Nixon a redemption that he never had in real life. How much artistic license should be allowed before historical accuracy is ignored or turned on it's head? To illustrate his point, Steve suggested, we imagine that a Japanese playwright decided to write a play about World War II in which there was no Pearl Harbor. Instead Japan is forced into the war when America stages a sneak attack on the Japanese Navy Fleet. Could that be an entertaining play? Certainly, but it would be divisive and inaccurate.

You have just 3 chances left to see this amazing production.
Friday April 26th  at 8PM
Saturday April 27th at 8PM
Sunday April 28th at 2PM.


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