Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Checkers ***

(Please click on the title to see the entire review.)
Douglas McGrath's new play at the Vineyard Theatre manages the not inconsiderable task of winning one's sympathy for the Nixons, especially for Pat. McGrath has taken a footnote to the 1952 campaign --- Nixon's struggle to stay on the ticket after charges of financial impropriety -- and built a play around it. For added measure, the story is told as a flashback to the moment in 1966 when Nixon decided whether to run for president again in 1968. Anthony LaPaglia does a credible Nixon and Kathryn Erbe is a superb Pat. Lewis J. Stadlen is a lively Murray Chotiner. The other principals -- Ike (Jon Ottavino), Mamie (Kelly Coffield Park), Herbert Brownell (Robert Stanton) and Sherman Adams (Kevin O'Rourke) rarely rise above the level of cartoon figures. Mark Shanahan and Joel Marsh Garland also have small roles. Neil Patel's clever set is greatly enhanced by Darrrel Maloney's excellent projections. Sarah J. Holden's costumes and Leah J. Loukas's wigs help recreate the times. Terry Kinney's direction is fluid. While the play has many entertaining moments, I could not shake the feeling that more loving attention had been lavished on it than it deserved. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes without intermission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Bob - It was interesting to find myself sympathetic with the personal side of Richard Nixon and admiring of his and Pat's early relationship. However, either the play was stretched out too much or row K has too little leg room, because I fidgeted, squirmed and tried relaxation imaging for the whole 95 minutes. Paglia was a familiar Nixon. Erbe was physically much too small for such a big part in the play.