REVIEW: The Trial of Jane Fonda – The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

This article was originally written for The Public Reviews at:

Writer: Terry Jastrow

Director: Terry Jastrow

It was one of the most controversial photographs of the Vietnam War, a laughing Jane Fonda astride an anti-aircraft gun surrounded by North Vietnamese troops, an image which, four decades later still provokes a vehement reaction from US veterans. Screen-writer Terry Jastrow’s new play The Trial of Jane Fonda, aims to present the truth behind the contentious image.

The play focuses on a little known event in 1988: Jane Fonda and Robert De Niro were in Westbury, Connecticut to shoot the movie Stanley and Iris, where a number of Vietnam veteran were poised to picket the production. Fonda took the opportunity to meet the protestors face to face; amid tears and recriminations she was able to tell her story to her detractors for the first time.

The powerful and affecting work of the top-notch cast, led by Jastrow’s Academy Award nominated, Golden Globe winning wife Anne Archer as Fonda, is effectively complimented with emotive video and audio footage and much of the footage and the truths that are revealed within the play, will shock many of those whose interest in this controversial incident has previously been superficial.

Jastrow has researched this topic with utmost care; retracing Fonda’s steps (including the actual site of the photo, now a laundry) gathered eye-witnesses accounts, scoured the national archives in North Vietnam and interviewed veterans of the war in order to get to the truth. He also spent four days with Fonda at her ranch in Santa Fe discussing her journey to activism and her memories of the events of 1972. His fastidiousness has resulted in an utterly gripping and at times, highly moving piece, which will long stay in the memory of those who have the privilege to see it.

A work of the utmost quality.

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