Timeline Theatre Company, “the little company that could”, just keeps rolling out quality theater. Their mission is to present stories, inspired by history that connect ith today’s social issues, and they do that to perfection. Their current production, a Chicago premiere of Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon” is so well directed by Louis Contey, that the audience doesn’t seem to mind sitting in their seats for 1 hour and 50 minutes ( no intermission) watching history unveiled. This is the story of a young British broadcaster, David Frost ( played with just the right touch by Andrew Carter), trying to become a “star” in America, and his taking on Richard Nixon ( a powerful performance by Terry Hamilton, who it seems can do almost anything on a stage) three years after the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Two men, both with powerful egos matched in a chess game where the public will decide who wins.
This is a powerful, behind the scenes look at the “game” and how each one played his hand. Nixon took on the interview partly for his ego but more for the money and possibly a chance to regain the public’s love and trust. Frost, invested all he had for th eopportunity to become a television personality in America. During this smartly written piece, we get to watch the game, seeing times when Frost appears to have lost it all, his staff thinking he has mis-handled the entire taping, but in the long run, Frost , as history shows us was the victor. Timeline’s intimate venue is a perfect space for this production as the audience is up close and personal, almost making us feel that we were present at the taping and in their meetings. This was an historical event for the American public, many of which were glued to their TV sets and with this production we get a deeper feeling for each of the men and their motives for this major event in TV history.
While, for all intents and purposes, Morgan has written a two man play, the ensemble members are of great import in putting the pieces together. Matthew Brumlow as Jim Reston, one of Frost’s staff also handles the story telling of the days before and during as well as after. Don Bender, Dennis Grimes,Michael Kingston, Ian Maxwell, David Parkes,Jessica Thigpen and BethLacke round out the superb cast. Keith Pitts has designed a simple set that takes nothing away from the action on the stage and yet brings you to where you are supposed to be with only a small amount of changes ( some wonderful video images designed by Mike Tutaj) and the original music by Andrew Hansen wors perfectly. Timeline uses their stage well and can redesign the theater for each show in order to make it more workable for the actors and more comfortable for the audience. Due to their historical shows, their staff always has lobby artifacts and videos for the audience to view prior to or after the show and when possible, they do have post show discussions where the audience members can learn even more.
“Frost/Nixon” will continue at Timeline Theatre located at 615 W. Wellington through October 10th with performances as follows:
Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are a mere $28 ( Wednesday-Friday) and $38 (Saturday and Sunday) and can be reserved by calling 773-282-8463 ext 24 or online at www.timelinetheatre.com
The location of the theater is the Wellington Avenue United Church, 615 W. Wellington ( just west of Broadway) parking is not a snap, but if you do drive, there is parking at a reduced rate at Standard Parking at Broadway Center 2846 N. Broadway ( at Surf) or Century Mall located at 2826 N. Clark Street. Both are about 2 blocks from the theater and will cost you $8. Public transportation is very easy to use . The 36 is the best bet, but the 22 ( Clark Street) is not bad either.
Timeline is an award winning company that has had sensational seasons in recent years and based on the start of this one, it appears that they are going to have another one.