As Terje explains early in the play, “This new model — my model — is rooted not in the organizational but the personal,” with each point of contention addressed separately, by specific individuals as themselves, not as the forces they represent. Or, as he later says, “It is only through the sharing of the personal that we can see each other for who we truly are.” This process shapes not only the negotiations depicted here but also the play itself.
How Mr. Rogers — who met with Mr. Rod-Larsen and Ms. Juul during his obviously extensive research — puts theory into practice is a marvel of both expository efficiency and exciting showmanship, by which a big picture is revealed to be a composite shot of precisely defined, imperfect individuals. “Oslo” features a vast cast of characters, of widely varied temperaments and ideological stripes. Yet somehow, by the end, this production’s vital ensemble makes you feel you have come to know every single one of them.
In the opening scene, at a dinner party at the couple’s apartment in which gossip is the stuff of history books, Terje describes meeting the Israeli statesman Yitzhak Rabin, who at first comes across as a sputtering clown. “Six months later, Rabin is prime minister, and I am a fool,” says Terje. “Why? Because I saw one side of this man and assumed this meant I knew all of him.” Overcoming such assumptions gives “Oslo” its shape and substance.