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How Frost the showman tackled a president

Frost/Nixon, Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, Jan 29 to Feb 3.

The Watergate scandal began early in the morning of June 17, 1972, when burglars were arrested in the Democratic Party's National Committee offices, in the Watergate buildings in Washington, D.C.

It was later confirmed that they were connected to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime, but in August 1974, after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, he became the only US President in history to resign from office, immersed in one of the biggest scandals in American political history. Three years later, in an attempt to portray himself in a more favourable light, he agreed to a series of TV interviews with David Frost, then best known for being an international socialite and chat show host.

For Frost this proved to be a career-defining moment while for Nixon, it led only to his dishonesty and corruption being more fully exposed.

The Priory provided the perfect intimate setting for Peter Morgan's West End hit focusing on what was by any standards an historic series of interviews which built to an intense and dramatic climax.

The set was simple but effective and Sean Glock gave a convincing portrayal of Frost, combining the presenter's distinctive nasal tones and his characteristic smarm.

The extent of Frost’s commitment to the interviews was revealed as the audience discovered that Frost had funded the $600,000 project himself. Indeed, the interviews would never have taken place had it not been for Nixon’s greed and Frost’s desire for publicity and fame.

The other two leads, Alan Wales as Nixon and Paul Atkins as Jim Reston, Frost's advisor, were equally compelling. Peter Morgan specialises in stories that pit two figures against each other — David and Goliath-like — and as with most such encounters, in Frost/Nixon, only one side could emerge victorious.

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