REVIEW: Frost/Nixon at Sheffield Crucible Theatre

By Dave Doyle | 28/02/2018

REVIEW: Frost/Nixon at Sheffield Crucible Theatre

Sheffield Crucible

Until March 17, 2018

ONLY this week a BBC 6 Music reporter described his audience with Kermit the Frog as his “Frost/Nixon moment”.

That’s how iconic the interview he referenced has become — the ultimate on-air grilling.

In stage show Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan’s political thriller — which went on to be an Oscar-winning 2008 movie — returns to its original format.

It charts the dicey dealings and psychological sniping around the meeting of Richard Nixon and flashy Frost, the talk show host.

Behind each, a team of staffers does their utmost to undermine the other side and reap maximum rewards from the stars’ short time together.

President Nixon (Jonathan Hyde) has resigned in the wake of Watergate, but will not face trial for the conspiracy.

British chat show celebrity David Frost (Daniel Rigby) is looking to crack the United States, having become a household name at home and in Australia.

He hits on a plan to interview Nixon and recruits two crack Washington correspondents to help him.

But the reporters have another objective — to give Nixon the grilling he never received in court.

Hyde apes Nixon’s mannerisms very ably, while Rigby is every inch the charming TV playboy.

As the two trade verbal blows, journalist Jim Reston (David Sturzaker) and army chief of staff Jack Brennan (Ben Dilloway) peep over the fourth wall to provide commentary and context.

The costumes are a riot of lapels and shoulder pads, with browns and pastels aplenty.

The sets swoop in and out on wheels, perhaps an homage to the slickness of a 1970s TV network.

Period cameras make way for airline seats, which whoosh out to be replaced by the studio suite.

The show blends live and pre-recorded action seamlessly, with a huge video screen suspended above the stage.

Sometimes this mirrors movements below, suggesting that the stream is live. But then the images diverge, revealing a clever illusion — the actors actually mimic the video very precisely.

Layers of intrigue whirl about with the wheeled furniture and scrambling station staff, portraying a frantic quest for fame and personal greed.

It’s a tale as timely now as it was 45 years ago. Conspire to go and see it this week.