“Secret Honor, The Last Testament of Richard M. Nixon” (a review)

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017By Ernest Kearney —  This is the barest of bare-boned productions imaginable.  However, it has two qualities going for it; the blistering play Secret Honor, The Last Testament of Richard M. Nixon, by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone and a scorching performance by Steve Scott.  The play is a torrential tirade spewed by a scotch-soaked Richard M. Nixon, as he prepares to resign the presidency to avoid impeachment from his cover-up of the Watergate break-in.

Secret Honor-Steve Scott-Fringe 2017

Performer, Steve Scott (Fringe 2017)

The strength of the work is the seamless weaving of facts about Nixon – his devoutly Quaker mother, the untimely deaths of two of his brothers – with the vindictive and self-serving rantings reflecting the most tragic psycho-history of any man ever to occupy the presidency.  (That is until #45.)

The play offers insights into the man, “To make it in this rat race, you gotta dream of failure every night.” And also into the reality of office, “In politics, victory is never total.”

Scott possesses the stage like a demonic whirling dervish in a dhikr of acrimonious disparagement and self-righteous flagellation, conveying both the disintegration of the man and defiance of the politician.

Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolutionWith no programs to refer to, I resorted to Google and found that Secret Honor and Scott received glowing notices at the Capitol Fringe Festival in D.C. in 2016 (The director then was credited as Nigel Fairs, but I won’t assume that’s the case here.)

The success of the performance is rooted in Scott’s intense portrayal of the cost and cancer that unchecked ambition demands and the damnation it brings.

Scott’s performance is a solid GOLD MEDAL.


♦    ♦    ♦


Secret Honor is Playing at

Asylum’s (Inter)national House
6500 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Final Fringe 2017 Performance

Saturday, June 24, 2017 — 7:00pm



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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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