Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 3:08 am | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 

Review: Elements Theatre Collective Revisits Eve of Resignation with ‘Nixon’s Nixon’

Laezer Schlomkowitz, left, plays Henry Kissinger and Michael Bernard is Richard Nixon in Elements Theatre Collective’s production of Russell Lees’ ‘Nixon’s Nixon.’
Laezer Schlomkowitz, left, plays Henry Kissinger and Michael Bernard is Richard Nixon in Elements Theatre Collective’s production of Russell Lees’ ‘Nixon’s Nixon.’ (Rob Grayson photo)

It is early August 1974, and President Richard Nixon is facing the end of his political career. He calls Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the White House’s Lincoln Sitting Room, late, and the two meet secretly.

Nixon’s Nixon, being presented at a variety of community venues by Elements Theatre Collective, is an entertaining, illuminating and surprisingly humanizing portrayal of their late-night, brandy-fueled strategic brainstorm on the eve of Nixon’s resignation. While it is fact that the two met that night, the content of their conversation comes mainly from the imagination of playwright Russell Lees.

Matt Tavianini directs with a sure hand. Staging in such a small space (Java Station on the night in question) is surely a challenge, even for a two-person production, but all works beautifully.

As Nixon, Michael Bernard — the company’s artistic director and accomplished actor/director — does an impressive job of conveying Nixon’s multi-faceted persona through expression, posture and attitude, never descending into cheap impersonation. He shows us Nixon’s bravado, his vulnerability and his regret.

A newcomer to Elements, Laezer Schlomkowitz is an utterly convincing Kissinger. Carefully considering his own political career and its viability, he is not uncaring about the president and his tortured state.

As the evening wears on and the level in the bottle goes down, things get increasingly surreal. Feeling nostalgic for past triumphs, Nixon cajoles Kissinger to act out scenes with him from previous foreign policy meetings with Chairman Mao and Leonid Brezhnev.

Eventually they hatch a plan to create a huge international incident that will allow the president to resign a hero, bringing the crazy to a crescendo.

Darkly comic and thought-provoking, this production opens Elements’ new season on the theme of Power & Influence. Coming in at 90 minutes and no intermission, this show is completely absorbing and entirely worth seeing in its final weekend.

Nixon’s Nixon runs through Sunday, Feb. 22. As a central goal of Elements’ mission, tickets are free, but it is requested that you visit www.elementstc.org to reserve seats.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >