The Trial of Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda was one of those few in Hollywood who actually put her money and, more importantly, her presence where her mouth was back in the seventies when she spoke out against the American governments and army concerning their involvement in the Vietnam war. This production written and directed by Terry Jastrow and starring Anne Archer focuses on little known events sixteen years later when Fonda was in Waterbury, a town highly populated with war veterans, about to make a film with Robert De Niro and was meeting with extreme resistance from a large number of vets who felt that she had betrayed them and placed their missions in deep danger.
What unfolds throughout this production is the two opposing and different sides and attitudes to war with both parties revealing throughout the, at times heated , confrontation that both parties had been used to meet others own particular needs and agendas. Fonda revealed that a world famous photo of her sitting astride a weapon for shooting down American aircraft whilst seemingly laughing and clapping was a set up and radically misinterpreted by a hostile press. Fonda also reveals the heavy price she paid for such a miscalculated manipulation and eventually concurs it was a serious mistake which cost her.
The veterans in turn reveal how her actions diminished everything they were trying to achieve but what does emerge is that both parties were both misled in their intentions by authorities who were hell-bent on achieving as much antagonism and discord as possible. There is a poignant touch at the play’s denouement wherein the moderator at the meeting reveals that Fonda’s intervention-no matter how misguided- did actually have a hugely positive result on his life and this goes someway to consoling her for all the other mistakes she made.
This is an extremely skilled production and whilst at times it could do with a little more spice to spark up the dialogue it still manages to be engaging throughout. The performances all react and interact effectively and it is very poignant piece at a moment when history seems to be repeating itself with the current situation in Gaza where yet again innocents are being killed in the name of something other than the mass genocide it actually is.

The Trial of Jane Fonda is on every day at 4.05 in the Assembly Rooms until August 25th

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