Hmmmm. Let’s write a three hour play about Middle East peace negotiations that sounded good at the time but have since unwound before our very eyes. For a policy wonk like me that sounds interesting but it is amazingly good theater. Who knew?
I am admittedly a political junkie who was fascinated at the time with the Oslo accords and heartbroken when Rabin was assassinated, essentially ending it’s promise. When I heard a play had been written about it, I wondered if a long form journalism piece wouldn’t be more appropriate. Nope. This is gripping theater.
Just as the process those clever Norwegians used was to personalize the negotiations instead of trying to guide it, the playwright personalizes the process of the process and we are hooked. The brilliant idea of Norwegian professor Terje Rod-Larsen (add a slash through the Norwegian “o”) was to place the Israelis and Palestinians alone in a room and to only guide the social time outside the room (where it happens – sorry couldn’t resist). Instead of trying to dictate and curate the negotiations he guided the social interaction and let the negotiators duke it out alone in whatever manner they wished. And Terje is played wonderfully by Jefferson Mays on Broadway. Playwright J.T. Rogers has turned this political negotiation into a very engaging night of theater. See it.