Peter Morgan’s play Frost/Nixon, in the nearly six years since it premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in London with Michael Sheen as David Frost and Frank Langella memorably playing the President, has been performed around the world, its popularity partly spurred by Ron Howard’s filmed adaptation in 2008.
It was just a matter of time before a production of the drama was mounted in the heart of “Nixon country,” and late last month this came to pass when the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, California, a few miles from the Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, premiered Frost/Nixon. The Orange County Register gives this staging a thumbs-up, with the paper’s Eric Marchese writing:
Thankfully, both [Joe] Parrish and [David] Herbelin avoid the almost comical stereotypes of the 2008 film version. Parrish’s gruff, socially awkward Nixon is utterly compelling – a deceptively humble figure banal in look and manner and with a penchant for spouting clichéd anecdotes and maudlin sentiments whenever the cameras are rolling. Yet like any battle-hardened trial lawyer, his Nixon isn’t rattled by anything Frost throws at him.
Herbelin’s Frost is a poignant figure throughout: touchingly vulnerable and optimistic, constantly embattled yet engagingly resourceful. Even in the play’s early scenes, where Herbelin captures Frost’s cheesy grin and greasy glad-handing, he keeps low-key, and avoids overdramatizing, his portrayal of Frost.
Frost/Nixon runs at the Maverick through May 27; it may be just the thing to tide over OC’s Nixon buffs until Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame can obtain the wherewithal for his planned production, with himself as Sir David, and John Larroquette – yes, John Larroquette from Night Court – as the President.
Robert Nedelkoff is a writer for the Richard Nixon Foundation.