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FROST/NIXON Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
By
Mar 7, 2019, 12:25
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Through March 24
FROST/NIXON Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company

Looking around the Andrews Theatre for an early performance of Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon,” I couldn’t help wonder which side of the great political war of the early 70s each member of the audience was on.
A Saturday matinee in winter brings out an audience old enough, as I am, to have seen Watergate live.
It was a struggle watched intensely in endless days of hearings about what went on around that 1972 presidential election and the stories of people like “The Plumbers” and the burglars.
Then, it exploded when presidential aide Alexander Butterfield sat down in front of a congressional microphone and talked on live national TV about the taping system in the Oval Office which recorded all, except for a mysterious 18 ˝ minute gap.
The story began to spill out toward impeachment and conviction and Nixon quit, flying to a California exile.
That’s where British TV figure David Frost (Adriano Gatto) comes on the scene and onto Morgan’s stage, the quest of one man to become rich and famous and the other seeking expiation.
Nixon (Jack Hunter) needed the money and wanted a chance to tell his side, aided and abetted by aides, especially Jack Brennan (Peter Palmisano), his be-medaled and be-ribboned military aide.
He thought Frost was a TV hack just out for the money and with no great background on the heights of journalism.
All true, although missing the point.
Frost begins to gather a staff, hire researchers and scrape together the money needed to secure the rights to pay for the interviews he has arranged.
Nixon?
Well, the former president figures he’s brighter than anyone else and can take over the interviews and get both the cash and the sympathy from the country.
Unfortunately for him, there was always that evidence and that’s the pivot for the conclusion, after hours of filibustering blather from the former president.
Director Brian Cavanagh makes effective use of the Andrews’ complicated stage, with a truly minimal set he also designed.
Hunter’s performance shows why it’s so good to have him back after his years in California, portraying a man who has so many sides along with so much light and shadow.
He makes “Frost/Nixon” work.
Gatto’s Frost is just a little too stereotype TV anchor, for a character far better educated than most TV performers.
While Hunter and Gatto are the heart of the show, Cavanagh is working with some very strong local performers in essential smaller parts, Palmisano, David Lundy’s John Birt, Matt Witten’s Bob Zelnick, Adam Yellen’s Jim Reston and Bay Boucher’s Swifty Lazar.
In these times, it’s fascinating to look at another president about whom no one is neutral.
“Frost/Nixon” is a must-see show, for its story and its performances.

A.W.

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