Author Archive for: ‘CarolBenet’

“Oslo” at Marin Theatre Company

“Oslo” at Marin Theatre Company

Carol Benet

A Broadway multi-award winning play makes its West Coast Premiere at the Martin Theatre Company.  A long and wordy play “Oslo” is based on the playwright J.T. Roger’s  knowledge of a secret negotiation of two Norwegian diplomats who facilitated the Oslo Peace Accord in 1993.  Parts of the script are real and parts fictional.

Two lower level diplomats, a married couple Mona Juul (Erica Sullivan) and her husband, a sociologist,Teje Red-Larsen (Mark Anderson Phillips), encourage important people to come together to discuss a bold peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  As the play progresses, the times and places change and new characters are introduced who are working on such a difficult task. And finally after an accord is written down an important hard-nosed Israeli lawyer Joel Singer (Peter James Meyers) reads it,  calls it “mush” and insists on many changes.

The large cast of 14 brings together people from all countries and there-in lies the difficulty because not everyone is able to reproduce the accents and gestures needed.  Rod-Larsen is too emotional with too many gestures to represent a dignified  Norwegian.  Yossi Beilin (Aaron Davidman),  Shaman Pere’s (Corey Fisher) protege is not Israeli enough.   Yet London trained Uri Savir (Paris Hunter Paul) has both Israeli accent and gesture just right.

One of the weaker parts are the not so funny jokes that a few of the characters tell.  I’ve heard better Rabbi jokes but maybe the playwright, who did much research,  recorded the real ones told at the meetings.  The play seems too unwieldy for the director Jasson Minadakis, who is also the Artistic Director of The Marin Theatre.  It  is a large undertaking and one can only imagine how a New York production would have made the three-act play move with excitement and the characters come alive.

The technical staff has contributed to the production. Sean Fanning’s set, first in the Norwegian Embassy with a crystal chandelier hanging from a de-constructed Baroque painted ceiling,  moves effortlessly to a restaurant in Israel and elsewhere.  Costume designer Fumiko Bielefeld had an easy job in this play because of all the male working clothes.  She dressed Mona in a very plain jump suit with vest and pants in a drab color that you have to imagine was inspired by an actual photograph describing the character.  York Kennedy and Danny Osburn’s lighting and Mike Posts’s projections bring clarity to the story.

In the end, “Oslo”  is a hopeful play that shows how a peace accord between two such intractable enemies was and still is a possibility. Despite the dire accounts of historical tragedies that followed the meetings with the second Intifada, the suicide bombings and other atrocities, the idealistic couple strongly believed that that they had to do something to bring the two enemies together and that a peace accord would change the world.

The Tony Award winning “Oslo” runs through October 21, 2018 with a strong possibility of an extension.  marintheatre.org or 415 388 5208.