Monday, October 5, 2009

Frost/Nixon, Austin Playhouse, September 11 - October 11

Almost thirty years had gone by when British dramatist Peter Morgan wrote this piece. The Gielgud Theatre picked it up from an "off-West-End" theatre in 2006. It moved to Broadway for 137 performances in 2007. Frank Langella won both a Tony Award for best actor, as well as the corresponding Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards.

Thirty years is about the right lapse of time before one exorcises demons and rehabilitates felons. Pain is remembered but no longer throbs, and different issues occupy the public mind.

The audience members at the Austin Playhouse were almost without exception of an age to have vivid memories of Watergate, Nixon's resignation, and David Frost's 1977 interviews, watched by some 45 million persons. That is reportedly still the record viewership for a televised political interview.

The play is structured as a hunt, a negotiation, and a verbal contest. Don Toner and his cast keep the suspense tight, almost convincing us that we don't know how this will turn out. The pull of the piece, however, is in the acting.

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