Theatre: Frost / Nixon


A perfect antidote to Wednesday's debacle was the excellent play Frost Nixon at the Donmar by Peter Morgan (who also wrote The Queen). It stars Frank Langella as Richard Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost, recreating the interview in 1977 that led to Nixon making some astonishing statements about Watergate and obstruction of justice (including the one above). This was a sensational and gripping two hours in the theatre about a disgraced leader and a fading entertainer both trying to use each other to revive their careers.

The drama behind the scenes and in the actual taped interviews is recreated to stunning effect. A bank of television screens suspended above also brings home the impact of the close up on Nixon. The entire cast is perfect but it is Langella and Sheen had you sitting on the edge of your seat. The closing lines of the play are as follows describing a party scene years later hosted by Frost:

Walking through the crowds of air-kissing politicians, actors and high-fliers it was tough to tell where the politics stopped and the showbiz started. Maybe that was the point. Maybe in the end there is no difference. And David understood that better than all of us.

At that point with the whole cast assembled on stage, Sheen gives a knowing wink and the stage goes black. The run is sold out at the Donmar and hopefully there will be a West End transfer. Even better would be if there was a film in the works. In the meantime, theatre doesn't get any better than this...

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