Two things come to mind while watching Peter Morgan's depiction of the 1977 Frost/Nixon televised interviews. The first is "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The second is that history repeats itself, as in the case of a certain disgraced Illinois ex-governor. But what really stands out in TimeLine's production is the power found in the simple, honest depiction of these characters and events.
The Watergate scandal resulted in President Richard Nixon's resignation before impeachment proceedings could take place. That meant the former commander-in-chief never acknowledged his role in the events to the American people, or accepted any blame for his actions. Rising British broadcaster David Frost set out to rectify this situation (and establish his credibility as a journalist) in a series of televised conversations before 45 million viewers, the largest ever TV audience for a political interview.
This production's strength lies, not only in Morgan's powerful script, but in its uniformly talented cast (Terry Hamilton's Nixon is spot on and Andrew Carter is a charming Frost) and its simple, versatile set, featuring Mike Tutaj's evocative projections and stunning live camera feed. This is an intimate enough theatre space, but Tutaj's video screen towers and giant close-ups bring the emotional ups and downs right into the audience's lap.
TimeLine may be the only Chicago theatre to consistently carry out its mission statement in every production. Their goal "to present stories inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues" is particularly timely in the wake of the recent Blagojevich trial. We are reminded that unchecked power continues to corrupt, and this is never more evident than when we are staring into the face of a powerful man brought down by his own admission of guilt.