Though perhaps weighed down by a slightly sluggish start where the occasional delivery was hampered by an occasionally overpowering soundtrack, and even if characters seemed to take some time to really engage with their role, the second half of Frost/Nixon proved a testimony to student productions and allowed the highly talented leads to shine.
Working closely with Peter Morgan’s script, no efforts were spared to deliver the sharp interchange between characters, using to the full the witty dialogue, at times comical at times profound. This came out particularly through Purkiss’ Jim Reston and Bowerman’s Jack Brennan whose characters took on a narrator’s role at key points in the play. Both managed to effortlessly keep the balance between narrating the background thoughts and the history of the other characters and melting back into the scene’s action.
Undoubtedly much of the play’s success stems from the two leads. Ed Barr-Sim’s Frost is just right for the part, exuding the charisma of the bumbling talk-show host and then adeptly managing the transition to justice-driven interrogator in the final interview scene, which this part demands. He is complimented by Aleksandr Cvetkovic’s Nixon as is fitting for such a great rival. Cvetkovic really captivates the stage from the second half. It truly is a stunning achievement for a second year undergraduate to capture the public downfall of one of history’s most notorious presidents so well. Particular highlights include Nixon’s climactic and chilling final monologue and the play’s finalé – the ‘Watergate Interview’. The broken man, hunched over in the interview-hot spot, who Cvetkovic conjures, leaves the audience hauntingly breathless, in awe of Frost’s capability to deliver the trial Nixon thought he would never have and the actor’s chillingly accurate portrayal of such a challenging character.
The two leads by no means overshadow the rest of the cast; especially the dynamic trio supporting Frost of Purkiss, Williams and Currie carried the play right through to the powerful ending. The acting and some catchy theme music, as well as interesting staging (including the effective use of an above-stage screen), all came together to give perfect resonance to a historic moment; one where a defeated President was forced to admit that he “let the American people down”.
PHOTO / Frost/Nixon