BRATTLEBORO — Shoot the Moon Theater Company opens its 2019 season as the resident theater company for Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery with a two-weekend run of Nixon's Nixon by Russell Lees. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8 and June 14 and 15.
Lees' play is a satirical imagining of the infamous meeting between a slightly drunk President Richard Nixon and an increasingly tipsy Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Aug. 7, 1974 - the night before Nixon resigned from office.
Described as a “jazz riff on contemporary history” by New York Times theater critic Vincent Canby when it debuted in 1996, the show highlights the contentious, but mutually beneficial, relationship between two titans of American politics, played by Colin Grube (Nixon) and Elias Burgess (Kissinger).
“Each man desperately wants something from the other. Nixon wants Kissinger to show loyalty, and somehow create a path for him to remain president. Meanwhile, Kissinger wants Nixon to recommend him to the incoming Ford administration,” said Joshua Moyse, Shoot the Moon's artistic director, in a news release.
Over the course of the evening, the two men re-enact their greatest successes and failures in a series of manic, vaudeville routines: Détente; the 1960 Kennedy election; the opening of relations with China; and the bombing of Cambodia are all reconsidered.
During these scenes, Nixon and Kissinger take on various roles, including JFK, Chairman Mao, Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev, and, at times, each other.
“Not only does this play help us understand our current moment in America, it is also extraordinarily funny. They engage in a heavyweight battle for the ages that is alternately hilarious and terrifying,” says Moyse, who additionally wanted to credit STM company stage manager, Alistair Follansbee.