Building, enhancing, and enriching self-image becomes the focus of Peter Morgan’s rewind of history in Frost/Nixon. The 2006 play explores the backstories and those out front when, in 1977, three years after resigning from his stained presidency, Richard Nixon consented to a series of TV interviews with British journalist and media personality David Frost.

Logically you could think that this is all about that collapsed leader of the free world. Yet it turns out, as  revealed at Bluebarn Theatre,  it’s equally about the TV celebrity, who…updating…left the public scene three years ago, dying at age 74.

Frost was at a low-ebb in his career at the time of the tale. He’d sought to overcome his insecurities by re-making a name of himself. In a sense, Morgan has it look as if both of these foundering men found mutual affinities. That’s there for you to ponder and explore in a script which has “the momentum of a ticking-bomb thriller and the zing of a boulevard comedy.” according to the New York Times.

Frost/Nixon has multiple dimensions. Eleven other characters swirl in and out of places and moments, in a traveling montage which is sometimes narrated, sometimes punctuated by expository comments en route. You may know about how Frost achieved a major reputation by prodding Nixon to admit some kind of remorse, but it’s the trip to get there that gives us pause.  

Admission to this theatre experience sold well both in London and then on Broadway in 2007 with triple Tonys up for grabs, but the 2008 multi-Oscar nominee is what garnered the most attention.

Morgan’s writing for the 2006 movie The Queen was among six Oscar contenders in 2006 and his script for The Last King of Scotland, likewise in 2006, garnered that prize for Forest Whitaker. Morgan is known for fact-based fiction such as these two films as well as for the BBC’s 2000 feature The Deal plus the BBC 1979 serial adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The present play fits right in, to use a much-seen phrase these days, being based on a true story.  Morgan has said that to find drama in such as these, there is a “difference between accuracy and truth.”

You might also read into the title that these events have become frozen in time. Or that Nixon was stopped cold. Maybe so. But what’s behind the scenes has much more to say.  

Frost/Nixon runs Feb. 4-28  at Blue Barn Theatre, 1106 South 10th St.  Thurs.-Sat.: 7:30 p.m., Sun. Feb 14, 21,28: 6 p.m. Tickets: $25-$30.

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