O Jerusalem

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O JERUSALEM centers around an American State Department official who becomes entangled in Middle Eastern politics before and after September 11, 2001. Along the way, the protagonist encounters a Palestinian woman from his past. "It's true that O JERUSALEM, an exhilarating new play by A R Gurney ... seems especially timely because of its subject matter. After all, it touches on many of the issues now preoccupying people around the world: the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, American foreign policy, terrorism ... Gurney's play manages to reach beyond its topical premise to pack a big, heartbreaking wallop. This is not a story about anything so cold as politics. Above all, it's about a man struggling to balance his ideals and personal relationships against a high-pressure career ... Gurney works with a wider geographic and cultural lens than usual. His previous plays have dealt mostly with domestic turmoil among white, upper-class Protestants; here, although the conflicts are still personal, they have global repercussions. And one of the main characters is decidedly nonwhite: Amira, a Palestinian activist ... Gurney's crackling dialogue. Each scene pulses with ... it has a scattershot energy and an ear for emotionally charged situations that make it totally engrossing. When a play has those assets, it doesn't need current events to be relevant." -Justin Glanville, The Associated Press "Even when he's angry and exasperated, A R Gurney holds on to a respectful air of apology. This most courteous of contemporary playwrights, known for his wry chronicles of upper-crust Protestant mores, has now focused on a fiery subject far from the country clubs of New England. The author of THE COCKTAIL HOUR and THE DINING ROOM has set up camp in Israel and Palestine. And he is the first to admit that, like many a Western diplomat before him, he finds himself lost and bewildered there ... there is something deeply touching in the urgency behind it ... Like the main figures in Mr Gurney's FAR EAST and MIDDLE AGES, Hartwell is haunted by a youthful affair with a woman of another culture. She is in this instance a Christian Palestinian named Amira ... One of the characters from the future in O JERUSALEM wonders if the title is 'a prayer or a sigh.' This exquisite, wistful observation reflects the troubled gaze through which Mr Gurney, like so many Americans, sees a distant land that seems to keep moving closer to home." -Ben Brantley, The New York Times - from Amzon 
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