Peter Morgan’s dramatization of the televised 1977 interviews between the
lightweight British talk show host and the disgraced former American
president gets a deft and timely revival under Scott Weinstein’s direction.
There’s nary a dull moment as Nixon and Frost prepare to spar in front of
the cameras. Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s set manages to make Redtwist’s tiny stage
work as a TV studio and a half dozen other locales through clever use of
doorways and video elements. The worn acoustic foam panels covering the
walls of this tiny storefront theater underscore a key theme of this play:
which information is kept in and which is kept out and by whom.
While Brian Perry bears little physical resemblance to Nixon, he nails the
timbre and cadence of the man’s voice, so by the middle of the show he
inhabits him almost completely. Brandon Wardell’s extensive use of shadows
in his lighting design heightens Perry’s transformation. The rest of the
cast is top-notch as well, with Adam Bitterman as both Swifty Lazar and
Mike Wallace a particular standout.
It would be difficult to imagine the current resident of the White House
acting with a fraction of the thoughtfulness and grace of Nixon—one of the
greatest villains in U.S. history. But the seeds sown during Watergate
cover us like kudzu now, so the sight of a former president admitting
criminal complicity on prime-time television is almost worthy of nostalgia
at this point. We can only hope that history can repeat itself one more