Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Measure for Pleasure
Round House is revisiting Nixon's Nixon in honor of the upcoming presidential election; Gero and co-star Conrad Feininger, playing the ostensibly unflappable diplomat Henry Kissinger, originally played these roles in 1999 at Round House's previous theater space. Director Jerry Whiddon's fluid, physical work builds upon the work of the original director, the late William Foeller.
The additional years have added gravitas to the actors, lending additional depth especially to Gero's frenzied posturing and manic speaking style. However, Feininger, while an amusing foil to Gero, sometimes comes across as more of a buffoon than he needs to be.
In Lees' imagination, Nixon and Kissinger meet on August 7, 1974the night before the president makes his resignation speechto make plans for their political futures. Although facing impeachment from his role in Watergate (the program offers a helpful synopsis of the events and people), Nixon starts out determined to keep fighting and triumph through sheer bullheadedness. He also floats some outrageous foreign policy ideas that seem disturbingly prescient in light of subsequent history. The urbane Kissinger, for his part, tries to flatter and manipulate the president for the sake of his own legacy.
With the technical upgrades available in the current Round House space, the designers have the opportunity to stretch, compared with the earlier production. Scenic designer James Kronzer brings the audience into the well-appointed Lincoln Sitting Room of the White House, and Martha Mountain's lighting design uses subtle changes of color to echo the distraught president's shifting moods.
Round House Theatre