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Frost/Nixon review at Donmar Warehouse

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If you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, you can at least give it a try. President Richard Nixon, aka Tricky Dicky, resigned in 1974 after the Watergate scandal, when he covered up the illegal burglary of his electoral opponents’ headquarters. Three years later, Nixon agreed to give a series of in-depth television interviews to David Frost – and they got the largest audience ever for a news show.

For his first stage play, Peter Morgan – whose The Deal dissected the Blair-Brown relationship on Channel 4 – tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Frost-Nixon interviews. In it, he shows how the British celebrity journalist and playboy managed to get something resembling an apology from one of the most corrupt presidents in history.

Morgan’s play is engrossing, humorous and completely convincing. Michael Sheen positively glows with Frost’s shatterproof bonhomie while Frank Langella, although he lacks Nixon’s shiftiness, does give his character an almost tragic stature. As the narrator, Elliot Cowan takes us through a complex story with efficiency and charm. Supporting actors include Corey Johnson, Rufus Wright, Kerry Shale and Lydia Leonard.

As directed by Michael Grandage on Christopher Oram’s set, which is dominated by television screens, Frost/Nixon resonates with significance about the relationship between the media and politics. If Morgan is better on the motivation behind Nixon’s final collapse than on explaining why Frost initially gave him such a soft ride, the play in general is a highly intelligent piece of political theatre that entertains as well as instructs.

Production Information

Donmar Warehouse , August 10-October 7

Author
Peter Morgan
Director
Michael Grandage
Producer
Donmar Warehouse
Cast includes
Elliot Cowan, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen
Running time
1hr 55mins

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