Michael Aronov, Jefferson Mays, Anthony Azizi. Photo by T. Charles Erickson
The reviews are in for Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway transfer of J.T. Rogers’ acclaimed play, featuring the original cast and directed by Bartlett Sher.
Presented by Lincoln Center Theater
By J.T. Rogers
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, Adam Dannheisser, Jennifer Ehle, Daniel Jenkins, Dariush Kashani, Jeb Kreager, Jefferson Mays, Christopher McHale, Daniel Oreskes, Angela Pierce, Henny Russell, Joseph Siravo, T. Ryder Smith
Playing through June 18, 2017
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Some works of art cry out for large canvases. Though it is sparing in its use of scenery or anything approaching spectacle, J. T. Rogers’s “Oslo,” an against-the-odds story of international peacemaking, is undeniably a big play, as expansive and ambitious as any in recent Broadway history. So it is particularly gratifying to announce that it has been allowed to stretch to its full height in the thrilling production that opened on Thursday night, directed with a master’s hand by Bartlett Sher.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
What would it take to get you to Lincoln Center Theater to see a three-hour political drama about the 1993 peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization known as the Oslo Accords? I doubt this review is going to do it, which is really a shame, because “Oslo,” a new drama by J.T. Rogers, is unequivocally fascinating. Would that some playwright would write as gripping a play about some contemporary political issue.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
Sher, however, has more trouble. His staging was chilly before, but he hasn’t made enough allowances, or sufficiently adjusted it, to account for the much-larger Beaumont, which makes the action more arid and remote than it used to be. Michael Yeargan’s spare institutionally elegant set has become bigger and emptier, too (though Catherine Zuber’s crisp costumes, Donald Holder’s cool but effective lights, Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg’s sound, and 59 Productions’s projections do land), but it needn’t feel that way; the cast is big enough to fill it. But Sher’s spins on the many scenes set around couches and tables both cramp and hollow out the show in a way that wasn’t the case at the more intimate Newhouse, and his few forays into the audience are now more irredeemably gimmicky. That the script has also been awkwardly compressed from three acts to two, disrupting the pacing when it needs to be most measured, suggests a greater issue with utilizing available resources.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
Rogers captures the mechanics of the negotiations and Sher’s direction keeps them moving at hyper speed. What we aren’t given during the course of this three-hour play is a character study. Who are Juul and Rod-Larsen? They narrate the drama, give a great deal of exposition, and they keep each other’s egos to the size of a peanut. In “Oslo” they emerge more as devices than characters.
Roma Torre – NY 1
If this sounds awfully plodding, it is anything but. Under Bartlett Sher’s taut direction, the wise and witty three-hour drama unfolds like a political thriller. Complex yes, but Sher’s superlative production immerses us in the suspenseful twists and turns that yielded the unimaginable: mortal enemies become friends.
Matt Windman – AM New York
The play is long and talky and jam-packed with names, dates and historical exposition, but also well-crafted and nuanced, with interesting characters and even humor every now and then. The subject matter is also increasingly vital at this time of heightened instability throughout the Middle East. Under the direction of Bartlett Sher, it is presented with as much clarity and personality as possible.
Adam Feldman – TimeOut NY
Directed by Bartlett Sher with the same distinguished ensemble cast as in its Off Broadway run last year, Oslo is a study in grays, both literally (in Michael Yeargan’s set and Catherine Zuber’s costumes) and in its studious rejection of black-and-white visions of the Middle East. Nearly three hours long, the play demands attentiveness and works hard to achieve it. (The actors, at times, deliver their lines at alarm-clock volume.) In its bittersweet final swell of hopefulness and humanity, it rewards one of our most endangered virtues, in theater as well as in politics: patience.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
Now comes the extraordinary Oslo, Rogers’ riveting dramatization of another complex political tarantella that unfolded in secret before, in September 1993, stunning the world. That was when Bill Clinton presided at a Rose Garden ceremony in which Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands after signing a historic peace accord. Oslo opened last summer in Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse; it’s moved upstairs to the Tony-eligible Vivian Beaumont, where it opened tonight. It’s even better the second time around.
Jesse Green – Vulture
Yet J.T. Rogers’s Oslo, which opened on Broadway tonight in a Lincoln Center Theater production directed by Bartlett Sher, turns the negotiations that led to the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord of 1993 into gripping human drama. To the extent that it does so by making diplomacy not just interesting but moving, it’s a wonder of savvy stagecraft and wily performance. It’s also, quite possibly, a lie.
Elysa Gardner – Entertainment Weekly
As we now know, that period was just a warm-up for the noise and chaos that followed, and Oslo has arrived at LCT’s Broadway venue with its sense of urgency intact, if not heightened. Director Bartlett Sher, whose rigorous insights into history and human relationships have buoyed new works and revivals, has actors rearrange the pieces of Michael Yeargan’s spare set as one scene flows into another, so that the production seems in constant, almost frantic, motion. Their characters pace and circle each other and raise their voices suddenly, lashing out or buckling under the strain of having to maintain their composure. Bits of dialogue teeter into speechifying here and there, but you’ll barely notice; the balance of passion, discipline, and suspense is organically, thrillingly theatrical.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News
Smart, touching and spiked with spy-novel tension and wry humor, the drama at Lincoln Center is the latest work by J.T. Rogers. Two of his earlier plays dramatized struggles in Rwanda and Afghanistan. Now he trains a keen eye on the Middle East — and Scandinavia, where the 1993 Oslo Accord came together.
Peter Marks – Washington Post
Creating riveting drama out of the intransigence of implacable enemies is no modest trick, but darned if playwright J.T. Rogers doesn’t pull it off, and grandly. This story of a three-dimensional geopolitical chess match, told as if each player were a complete human being capable of passion, error, humor and honor, reveals the keen eye and ear of a writer working in veritable mind-melding harmony with a superb director, Bartlett Sher.