Video: The cast of Oslo on playing their real-life characters

Lydia Leonard

After a limited run at the National Theatre, Oslo - the winner of this year’s Tony Award for Best Play - is settling in for a run in the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

JT Rogers’ play deals with the true story of the Oslo Accords of 1993. More specifically, how two Norwegian diplomats – who also happened to be married – set up a number of top secret negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Those talks culminated in a handshake on the lawn of the White House, and is the closest to peace the region has seen.

Terje Rød-Larsen (Toby Stephens) and Mona Juul (Lydia Leonard) used their connections to set up the negotiations, and looked to focus the talks on being personal rather than simply diplomatic. The principal negotiators would spend their time outside the meeting rooms together, eating and drinking like friends. This leads to many emotionally-charged, heated and often very funny scenes between Israel’s Uri Savir (Philip Arditti) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Ahmed Qurie (Peter Polycarpou).

The real Rød-Larsen and Juul were somewhat involved in the play; director Bartlett Sher met Rød-Larsen at a school football match in New York, and set the diplomat on a ‘playwriting Match.com date’ with Rogers. So we asked Leonard, Arditti and Polycarpou what it was like for them taking on this vital, true story, and how they went about playing the real-life characters.

Oslo is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 30th December.

Click here to watch our interview with Oslo playwright JT Rogers, and click here to read our four-star review of Oslo.

Oslo Tickets are available now.

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