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BWW Review: Strawberry Theatre Workshop's Riveting FROST/NIXON a Must See

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BWW Review: Strawberry Theatre Workshop's Riveting FROST/NIXON a Must See
Amy Thone in Frost/Nixon from
Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
Photo credit: John Ulman

Peter Morgan's brilliant look at the dissection of one of the most powerful men in the country by one whom many considered a joke, "Frost/Nixon", is enough of an enticement to want to see Strawberry Theatre Workshop's current production. But then when you hear that director Greg Carter has cast the predominantly male show with all women you could find yourself of two minds. Either, "cool, this will be interesting" or, "oh, another gimmick casting". But I want you to put the idea that it's an all-female cast out of your mind as that's not the point. Sure, it's great that these actresses get to play these meaty, traditionally male roles but what you should focus on is how each of them, especially Alexandra Tavares and Amy Thone as the titular David Frost and Richard Nixon, are simply the best people for the roles. And what they create for us is a thrilling game of cat and mouse where the role of the cat keeps changing.

You're probably familiar with the Nixon story as one of the greatest scandals our government has known came to light and resulted in the resignation of a President. But what you may be less familiar with is the story of how the wildly popular at the time British talk show host Frost, who was more known for interviewing pop stars and actors and actresses, became the man to sit down with the recently deposed President over four televised nights to try and get to the real truth of what happened during the Watergate scandal and just how culpable the President was in all of it since his pardon from Vice President Ford negated him from ever having to go to trial for what happened.

As I said, Morgan's play is already brilliant as it not only goes in depth into the interviews themselves but the backstory of how they came about and the turmoil leading up to them. But then we put it in the hands of this incredible cast and crew. Director Carter does an amazing job at keeping the pace going and the tensions high especially in the midst of several scene changes. The Broadway production and subsequent tour that came through town of course had the benefit of set pieces sliding in or raising from underneath, but you can't really do that at 12th Ave Arts. But Carter and his cast and crew handle the task beautifully making the changes almost seamless and never jarring. Plus, they still manage the fantastic use of cameras and monitors so both sides of the audience, as the audience is seated on two sides of the house, can still see these two intense figures even when static in their interview chairs.

BWW Review: Strawberry Theatre Workshop's Riveting FROST/NIXON a Must See
Alexandra Tavares in Frost/Nixon from
Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
Photo credit: John Ulman

But it's this cast that completely sells it. Meme Garcia, Sarah Harlett and Rhonda J. Soikowski each inhabit the individual roles of the men in Frost's camp wonderfully, especially Harlett as the extremely passionate Reston who also acts as a narrator of the piece. And on the Nixon side Ina Chang is equally powerful as Nixon's chief of staff Brennan. But the show naturally belongs to Tavares and Thone who completely shine and disappear into the roles. Tavares latches on to the effusive and bubbly nature of Frost but never loses that undertone of fear that he may make a fool of himself over this venture. And Thone is outstanding as Nixon. She inhabits the role like no other making him a force of nature yet keeping the cracks in his armor just under the surface and the final moments of the interview are some of the most riveting theatrical moments I've seen.

I was already impressed with the tour of the play I saw several years ago as well as the film, but this production surpassed them both. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Strawberry Theatre Workshop's production of "Frost/Nixon" a riveted WOW (my highest rating). You do not want to miss this show!

"Frost/Nixon" from Strawberry Theatre Workshop performs at 12th Ave Arts through February 17th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.strawshop.org.


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