This season, the Justice Theater Project has focused their gaze for the season on the political conversation in America. The inaugural show of the season, Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, featuring seasoned Raleigh actors David Henderson (David Frost) and John Honeycutt (Richard Nixon), opens the discussion of politics by revisiting America’s greatest political scandal, now known as Watergate. Narrated by the young ambitious journalist seeking political justice, Jim Reston (played by Ryan Brock), Frost/Nixon takes a look behind the scenes in the days leading to Frost’s dynamic interview with Nixon and the president’s eventual admission of guilt. Ryan Brock, Mark Olexik (John Birt), and Mike Raab (Bob Zelnick) provided seamless ensemble support for David Henderson. Jack Prather brought individual comedy and cunning to the self-important Swifty Lazar, while Tanner Lagasca (Manolo Sanchez) and Chris Coby (Jack Brennan) filled their roles as attendants to Nixon with awareness and clarity of character. The partnering between David Henderson and John Honeycutt may be one of the best the Triangle has to offer. Both actors perform with an understanding and depth of character that brings a personal life to the roles and will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Indeed, looking around the crowded room, many a patron craned forward to hear Honeycutt utter Nixon’s infamous line during the interviews: “If the President does it, it isn’t illegal” as if hearing the words from Nixon himself.
Shannon Clark’s design elements married live theatre with the televised presentation of the original interviews. The multiple rear projection television sets around the stage not only informed the time period of the piece, but also provided scenic elements during interactions when the network cameras were turned off as well as staged the set of a television show when interviews began. Efficient transitions maintained the pace and kept the action always a step ahead.
The Justice Theater Project plans to enrich their already resonant performances of Frost/Nixon with educational and informative opportunities to learn more about the interviews and the Watergate Papers. On September 15, Byron Woods will facilitate a pre-show panel on “Politics, Conscience, and the Media” featuring George Corvin, Gail Phares, and Jules Odendahl-James. Audiences also won’t want to miss the September 23 post-show discussion with James Reston, Jr. Those interested in learning more about the Watergate Papers outside of the theatre may enjoy Rufus Edmisten's presentation of Nixon's subpoena at UNC-Chapel Hill's Wilson Library from 5:00-7:00 PM on September 20.
Frost/Nixon continues its run through September 23. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.