Impeccably coiffed Watergate whistle-blower Martha “Mouth of the South” Mitchell, wife of Nixon attorney general John Mitchell, is the subject of first-time playwright John Jeter’s one-woman show Dirty Tricks. Padding around her newspaper-littered New York apartment, Mitchell (the ever-competent Judith Ivey) reminisces about being a discretion-challenged political spouse. Call her proto-Teresa.
In flashbacks, Mitchell blithely drunk-dials the press, pounds on the door to her husband’s locked office, and yammers on about dresses (she’s pro-flounce), the Vietnam War (it “stinks”), and the price she thinks she paid for her loose lips: getting kidnapped by Nixonites and injected with some kind of drug. The latter event is staged by director Margaret Whitton with all the taste of an America’s Most Wanted reenactment. For comedy, Jeter relies on the prattling of a big-haired Dallas matron who can’t get over having been snubbed by Pat Nixon. If it weren’t for Ivey’s nuance, the whole affair would be downright campy. As it is, it’s a civics class, made barely tolerable by an attractive teacher.
By John Jeter. At the Public Theater.