OSLO by J. T. Rogers is about The Oslo Accords and how they brought momentary peace in the Middle East. That’s a very heady subject to choose and with Bartlett Sher‘s adept direction, you have a lovely evening of intrigue and behind the scene machinations that is never boring or preachy. Unfortunately, it also never soars beyond a PBS docudrama with very few thrills and almost no depth. My jaw hit the ground when confronted with the overused “how can we be enemies, our daughters have the same first name” bit. Really? Even the usually wonderful Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays come off blandly as the Norwegian couple who mastermind the Peace Talks. Michael Aronov gives a vigorous, eccentric performance as the one character with any real verve. Mr. Aronov deserved the Tony, OSLO did not.
Oh the pleasures of a well written play performed by a talented cast under the direction of a Pro! THE FRONT PAGE has a delightfully zany revival on Broadway with an all-star cast that is an enchantment from start to finish. How do you convince stars like John Slattery, Nathan Lane, John Goodman, Holland Taylor, Jefferson Mays, Dylan Baker, Sherie Rene Scott and Robert Morse to share the stage? Start with a gem of a script by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The personalities are so beautifully drawn that one character, who never even appears on stage, gets a laugh when it is mentioned that he was shot. Each performer gets their moment to shine and it’s a large 26 person cast! The plot is so carefully laid out that when the trigger is finally released, a Rube Goldberg set of incidents ensue and the laughs barely let up until curtain.
John Slattery, of MAD MEN, at first glance is a little “grey” to be the newly engaged Hildy Johnson, but his age actually adds to his desperate need to escape the Newspaper Business before it’s too late. Nathan Lane is giving a quintessentially “Lanian” performance; we feel his blowhard persona even before he is physically present. And my gosh, to get to see Robert Morse on stage is entrancing, even in a minor but pivotal role. Jack O’Brien has given us a captivating look back at a time when people cared about the written word, in the news and on stage.