New York 7th April, 2017
“I can’t give up the idea that suddenly everything will change and my stomach will be my friend.”
I have only dim memories of the 1993 agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis which had been secretly arranged by a Norwegian couple, who had spent from April 1992 until September of the following year coercing, negotiating, plotting and planning to bring this agreement to life.
The play imagines the events leading up to the accord. Yes,it is long, wordy and jam-packed with names, dates and historical exposition, but also well-crafted and nuanced, with interesting characters injected with humour. The subject matter seems increasingly vital at this time of heightened instability throughout the Middle East.
First we meet Terje Rød-Larsen (Jefferson Mays) and his wife Mona Juul (Jennifer Ehle). From April 1992 to September 1993, the time span of the play, he was director of the Fafo Institute for Applied Social Sciences, and she was an official in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, working for Johan Jorgen Holst, then-Norway’s foreign minister, who was married to Marianne Heiberg (Henny Russell), an executive at the Fafo Institute working for Rød-Larsen.
The story of how on earth this ambitious and likeable diplomatic couple became such vital power-players is sketched quickly, with the aid of a panoramic screen behind the stage, flashing images up of key, mostly tragic, moments in the Middle East conflict. They are complicated beings in a less-than-perfect marriage with a sometimes faltering grasp of the international time bomb they have set ticking. Continue reading Oslo