Thursday, October 4, 2018

'Oslo' tells story behind historic Middle East accord

Norwegian mediator Terje Rød-Larsen (Mark Anderson Phillips, left) discusses the possibility of back channel peace negotiations with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin (Aaron Davidman). Photo by Kevin Berne

Hopes for Middle East peace brightened considerably in 1993 when the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization were signed.

“Oslo,” the 2017 Tony-winning drama by J.T. Rogers, tells how this historic agreement came about. It’s being given its West Coast premiere by Marin Theatre Company.

It focuses on the top-secret negotiations brokered by Terje Rød-Larsen (Mark Anderson Phillips), founder of a research organization that studies international politics; and his wife, Mona Juul (Erica Sullivan), a Norwegian diplomat.

They brought together two representatives each from Israel and the PLO in a Norwegian country mansion and sent them into a private room to talk.

Although the two sides were openly hostile at first, they gradually established some rapport and began agreeing on points of contention.

As these talks continued in fits and starts over several months, others from each side became involved.

MTC artistic director Jasson Minadakis skillfully guides his superb 14-member cast through the play’s changing moods, character clashes and character development.

Among the actors, Phillips and Sullivan are especially noteworthy as the persistent brokers. Most of the other actors play only one character, while Marcia Pizzo, Charles Shaw Robinson and Ryan Tasker display their versatility in several roles.

The cast also includes Ashkon Davaran, Aaron Davidman, Joe Estlack, Corey Fischer, Brian Herndon, Peter James Meyers, J. Paul Nicholas, Adam Niemann and Paris Hunter Paul.

The spare, flexible set is by Sean Fanning with dramatic lighting by York Kennedy and projections by Mike Post.

The costumes are by Fumiko Bielefeldt with sound by Sara Huddleston and music by Chris Houston.

Although the Oslo Accords raised hopes for an end to hostilities, the play’s epilogue makes clear that peace quickly became elusive and still is today, 25 years later.

Running about two hours and 40 minutes with an intermission, “Oslo” is a powerful, riveting drama. It will continue through Oct. 21 at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

For tickets and information, call (415) 388-5208 or visit