The Israelis are the comedians, deadly serious, but always calculating how to disarm their enemies. When given the stage, they stun their PLO counterparts by telling jokes — which leaves the Palestinians to draw on their own ancient tongue and to play the poets. No wonder it takes these guys three acts to find a common language.
The PLO finance minister Ahmed Ourie, known as Abu Ala, is a riveting presence in Anthony Azizi’s wrenching performance. Not to give too much away, because the play is constructed very much as a suspense drama, but it’s a jaw-dropping moment when the Norwegians realize that Ourie’s hushed phone calls home, asking for permission to make deals, are all a sham. The man is acting entirely on his own, which could mean his life.
Such moments, in fact, are what director Sher draws on to make “Oslo” so compulsively watchable. The moment when two of the men realize they have given their daughters the same name; when the private talk turns to fathers; when the Palestinians try to top an Israeli joke (can’t be done, but please recite another poem); when one man puts a friendly hand on another’s shoulder and they go for a walk together; when they toast each other for their “constructive ambiguity.” And in the end, when the searing image of a handshake of peace between two enemies makes the entire audience gasp.
This is what we call drama, and it’s what we live for. So, go, already — live!No, this is what we call putting a happy face on what's been accurately described as "the appalling story of what has been called the greatest self-inflicted wound of political history: Israel's embrace of Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Oslo accords of September 1993."
So, go, already--die (Arafat's post-Oslo message to Israel)!
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