Review: Oslo on Broadway2 min read

Oslo: An Inventive and Inspiring Peace/Piece.


Oslo: An Inventive and Inspiring Peace/Piece.

By Ross
Who knew that a three hour play about the infamous Oslo Peace Accord miraculously achieved by an overly optimistic Norwegian couple could be so riveting. From the moment Jefferson Mays (The Front Page) and Jennifer Ehle (The Coast of Utopia) walk on stage embodying this surprising couple, Terje Rod-Larsen, the director of the Fafo Institute, and his esteemed wife, Mona Juul, an official in the Foreign Ministry of Norway, we all lean in so we may catch every word and every reference within Oslo, the magnificent new play on the main stage at the Lincoln Center Theater. The information flys at us rapidly but, as written by the astonishing J. T. Rogers (Blood and Gifts), we follow every detail and every introduction. Meticulously constructed, this is an epic story of how two Norwegians got two ___ enemies, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to stand face to face in the Rose Garden on September 13, 1993 in the presence of President Clinton and shake hands. That in itself is the miracle that the world had given up on, but on that day, after over a year of secret talks near Oslo, these two would official sign into effect the Oslo Accord that would lead to the resolution of the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Jennifer Ehle, Jefferson Mays. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
What an amazing act of tight rope walking we are witness to as directed with the utmost skill and intelligence by Bartlett Sher. The Accord was a complex diplomatic enterprise with numerous players all working for hours upon hours struggling against history to come to some agreement. Each character entering into this beautiful sparse and well orchestrated stage, designed with a minimal and perfect eye for detail and meaning (sets: Michael Yeargan, costumes: Catherine Zuber, lighting: Donald Holder), are introduced to us with some form of contextual information given by Ehle, as the uncredited narrator. It is seamless and exacting, direct and thrilling.  We feel like a lucky fly on the wall as we watch all the different players fight, squabble, and earnestly try to overcome decades of mistrust, fear, and hatred, while the outside world struggled with violence and death.  We see the death and destruction projected on the back wall in gritty black and white (projections: 59 Productions). It adds tremendous weight to the proceedings, which turns this from an exercise to life and death. (for the full review, click here)
Best Theatrical Events of 2017: My Top 20 on Broadway and Off