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Playhouse Presents: Nixon’s The One (Review)

I can’t help but feel just a little bit disappointed by Nixon’s the One. Sky Arts have been producing a series of television plays as part of Playhouse Presents bringing together a wealth of talent including Emma Thompson, Richard E. Grant, Tom Jones, David Tennant, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen Fry and Olivia Williams among others. Nixon’s the One, the third in the series of ten plays, caught my eye because it was a re-enactment of various exerts from Nixon’s infamous White House tapes, brought to life by a talented cast. While the approach is fascinating and Harry Shearer makes a convincing Nixon beneath far too much make-up, the play is simply too short to capture any real portrait of America’s most controversial President. It drops some interesting insights, but doesn’t have enough room to expand or develop them beyond what we already knew of Nixon.

Just dossier-ing around…

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The Love of Richard Nixon…

I’m not American, but I feel a strange fascination with Richard Milhouse Nixon. He’s a figure of almost Shakespearean complexity, driven to phenomenal heights and fantastic accomplishments, but never able to do enough to placate the insecurity gnawing at him. I had the pleasure of reading Conrad Black’s rather even-handed summary of his life and career last summer, and he seems as much a mystery as ever. The recent news item about another of his paranoid ramblings has grabbed media attention, but I’m amazed that there doesn’t seem to be much debate over the true impact of Nixon’s Presidency beyond the obvious shadow cast by Watergate. What is the American fascination with painting Nixon as a villain or a fiend? Why can he not embody something just a tad more complex?

Richard Nixon unsuccessfully attempts to distract from the Watergate scandal by declaring "It's behind you!" during a Press Conference...

Richard Nixon unsuccessfully attempts to distract from the Watergate scandal by declaring "It's behind you!" during a Press Conference...

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