I must confess to having a fondness for political skulduggery and intrigue and J.T Rogers’ new play Oslo certainly fulfils that need. It tells the story of how a peace plan was engineered between Israel and Palestine in Norway where the talks were held in secret with no one knowing – especially the Americans – that they were taking place. The play is also a history lesson where parts of the set are turned into huge video screens where actual footage is shown of the bloodshed and atrocities committed by both sides.
Rogers has a wicked sense of human and deliberately intermingles pure farce with the seriousness of the dialogue. Toby Stephens as the orchestrator of the talks plays Terje Rod-Larsen with such an air of snobbery and self righteousness that the play never fails to amuse when he is caught out by the manner of his actions. The play is a satire and one of points that was included in the document was who was going to empty the bins and take out the trash. This is also a story about manipulation and by clever direct addresses to the audience made by Mona Juul played by a very watchable Lydia Leonard, we are given the information and timeline as the story unfolds.
There is also a very clever use of flashback where Rogers and his excellent cast tell the story of one of the biggest Catch 22 situations in modern history and how it was eventually played out on the world’s stage which resulted in the historic 1993 peace accords being signed. The wonderful thing also about Oslo is that you don’t really have to a pre-knowledge about the Israel-Palestinian situation, the content of the play will answer any questions you may have. This is a well constructed play performed by a cracking cast superbly directed by Barlett Sher who has a striking command of the material. Riveting and flawless.