Oslo

‘OSLO’: (left to right) Daniel Oreskes, Michael Aronov, and Anthony Azizi (foreground) with Daniel Jenkins and Jeb Kreager (background). Photo: T. Charles Erickson

 

 

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OSLO
Written by J. T. Rogers
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Vivian Beaumont Theatre
150 West 65th Street
(212-889-6300), www.ltc.org

 

By David NouNou

Many remember the famous handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in the White House Rose Garden, presided over by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1993. Playwright J.T. Rogers brilliantly documents all the details that took place before that historic moment in time in his outstanding drama Oslo.

It all started with the married Norwegian diplomatic couple Terje Rod-Larsen (Jefferson Mays) and Mona Juul (Jennifer Ehle). On a visit to the Holy Land, they witnessed an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian youth with weapons aimed at each other and the senselessness of all this loss of lives. They form the backstory of what is now known as the Oslo Peace Accords. Instead of dealing with the United States to broker such a deal, they dealt with the two warring factions: the Israelis and the PLO, bringing them together to sort out their own peace. Rather than having foreign countries getting involved and roiling up the waters, peace was to be made by these emissaries in acceptance with their leaders. All this was done in secret locations and with code names, without having the rest of the world in the know. If anything ever leaked out of such meetings, the consequences would have been dire and fatal for all.

Although we know of the final outcome of the Oslo Accord, J. T. Rogers has masterminded an epic journey of the events that took place and keeps us riveted throughout. Director Bartlett Sher and projectionists 59 Productions take us through this fraught journey (with footage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict) of foreign lands and intrigue as if it were an espionage movie. The storyline unfolds both mysteriously and vividly. We come to know all the players and the intrigue that took place behind closed doors and the ordeals they experienced to forge this peace treaty.

The cast works magnificently as an ensemble. As the masterminds, Rod-Larsen and Juul, Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle are brilliant as usual. Although they have the less flashy roles, they work hard as both the organizers as well as the storytellers of this incredible endeavor. Michael Aronov as Uri Savir, the Israeli Director General of the Foreign Ministry, and Anthony Azizi as Ahmed Qurie, the Finance Minister of the PLO, are powerhouses in their scenes of rage, both trying to forge an alliance. They are wonderfully supported by Adam Dannheisser, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister  Yossi Beilin; Daniel Oreskes as Yair Hirschfeld and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres; and Daniel Jenkins Jan Egeland, Norwegian Foreign Minister, as well as Israeli Ron Pundak.

Oslo valiantly shows the lengths people are willing to go through for Middle East peace.  It also shows at what price peace is attained; and when it is all said and done, is the price worth it when there is so much hatred between these two factions? Will peace ever be attained? For as much goodwill as there is, ultimately there will be dissenters who will bring it crashing down.

 

 

Edited by Scott Harrah
Published April 17, 2017
Reviewed at press performance on April 16, 2017

 

‘OSLO’; (left to right) Michael Aronov, Jefferson Mays & Anthony Azizi. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

 

Oslo

‘OSLO’: Henny Russel (center) with Daniel Jenkins, Dariush Kashani, Jefferson Mays, Angela Pierce, Daniel Oreskes, & Anthony Azizi. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

 

‘OSLO’: Jefferson Mays & Jennifer Ehle. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

‘OSLO’: Jennifer Ehle & Jefferson Mays. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

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