Oslo Accords, the set of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), signed in Washington, D.C. in 1993 and a second signed in Taba, Egypt in 1995, marked the start of the Oslo process. Now the Oslo Accords is made into a thrilling Broadway production.
J. T. Rogers’s “Oslo” is the against-all-odds story of the international peacemaking initiated by Norwegian politicians, has now been made into a thrilling, new Broadway production.
If the daughter of theatre director Bartiett Sher had not been best friend with the daughter of Terje Tød-Larsen and Mona Jull at primary school, “Oslo” would not have been one of the biggest Broadway sensations of the year.
One character in Oslo observes that, “Americans cannot stand it when others take the lead,” while earlier on another notes that the U.S. government is especially proprietary about its relationship with the Middle East. To the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten playwright J. T. Rogers says, “This is embarrassing. I actually thought that it was US Americans who had made the Israelis agree on a peace agreement.”
The Oslo process started after secret negotiations in Oslo, resulting in the recognition by the PLO of the State of Israel and the recognition by Israel of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and as a partner in negotiations.
“Oslo” has now become the colossus it was always meant to be, while giving an even sharper focus to the urgent behind-the-scenes intimacy at its fast-beating heart.
The political drama about the 1993 peace treaty lasts for about three hours and is unequivocally fascinating. It started as an off-Broadway production last year, and was immediately an success:
“The terrific new political thriller Oslo begins with actors scurrying about the stage positioning props and furniture, as one key figure played by Jefferson Mays arranges people within the space while another, portrayed by Jennifer Ehle, breaks the fourth wall early on to elucidate character and background information.
One remarkable aspect of this very fine production, directed with unerringly precise attention to detail by Bartlett Sher, is that while its mechanics as a theatrical presentation are emphasized from the start, they enhance rather than impede our involvement in a fascinating true story. This is a play alive with tension, intrigue, humor, bristling intelligence and emotional peaks that are subdued yet intensely moving, which concludes unexpectedly on a poignant note of hope.”
The production’s newly enhanced scale at the Lincoln Center Theatre matches the aspirations of not only the play’s author but also its protagonists. Heading the flawlessly cast ensemble are Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle as the Norwegian tacticians Terje Rod-Larsen and Mona Juul, the (very real) Norwegian husband and wife who in the early 1990s initiated the series of secret peace talks between high-level officials from Israel and the PLO in the same room and actually talking with one another.
Terje (embodied here by Jefferson Mays) was then director of the Fafo Institute for Applied Social Sciences. Terje is a fussy fellow who dresses so well (credits to costumer Catherine Zuber) and whose manners are so refined that Yitzak Rabin insists on referring to him as a Frenchman. Mona Juul (Ehle), his wife and the narrator of the dramatic events, is the even-tempered government diplomat who does whatever has to be done — from ordering the liquor to putting out emotional fires — to make it happen.
“It’s a very small country,” Mona says to the audience, graciously explaining the extremely tight personal and political relationships. “We take nepotism to an entirely new level.” Rogers’ dialogue is really witty. You get the facts, but you get them delivered with intelligence and humor by a dream of a cast.
Michael Yeargan’s scenic design and 59 Productions’ projections of constantly breaking battles makes it clear that neutral Norway aspires to be a very soothing nation in a world gone mad.
The Oslo Accords Made Into Thrilling Broadway Production, written by Tor Kjolberg
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