‘Martha Mitchell Calling’
A humorous and poignant look at a woman who stood for truth
Martha Mitchell is known as the wife of John Mitchell, the U.S. attorney general during the Nixon administration – one of those indicted in the Watergate scandal – and for her phone calls to the press regarding that scandal. “Martha Mitchell Calling” explores the woman behind the headlines, offering sympathy and vindication that she never received in her lifetime.
John and Martha had a loving romance, until she led him into the swamp of Washington politics. “John was a died in the wool Democrat,” she recalls. Then she introduced him to Richard M. Nixon.
Flamboyant, formidable and often misunderstood, Mitchell demanded the truth even when no one believed her. She was the first one to call for Nixon’s resignation, which her husband never forgave her for.
In the play, Martha compares herself to the prophetess Cassandra and to Julius Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, who had good advice that went unheeded about coming clean about the Watergate break-in and the follow-up.
As Nixon himself told David Frost during their famous 1977 interview, “If it hadn’t been for Martha Mitchell, there’d have been no Watergate.”
Martha Mitchell has been scorned for choosing truth over her marriage and happiness, ostracized as a traitor and abandoned by her family. But she never lost her spirit.
The Virginia Rep presentation of “Martha Mitchell Calling” at Hanover Tavern is a humorous, yet poignant, exploration of Martha (Debra Wagoner) and John (Joe Pabst).