A Walk in the Woods

Not a day seems to go by without the news reminding us of ongoing negotiations between governments. Whether it is another visit to the DMZ in Korea or trade talks with China, we are reminded that high level negotiations between governments seem to be endless. What is lost in these reports is the human interaction that occurs at the practical level of these meetings, when the photographers and reporters are far away. Lee Blessing’s two hander “A Walk in the Woods” is a well-crafted glimpse into this process, and North Coast Repertory Theatre’s production just closed a deserved extended run.

Andrey Botvinnik is an old hand at the negotiation process and has visited Geneva many many times over the years, caring the torch for his Soviet leadership. John Honeyman, however, is a fresh American face on the scene, ready to talk turkey and get down to brass tacks. The interplay between the expert and the novice plays out over the course of several meetings in the titular location, away from the negotiating table. Marty Burnett as always makes good use of his stage design, with a bench being the central focal point among the trees.

David Ellenstein’s experience acting and directing is evident, he quickly inhabits the role of Botvinnik the veteran negotiator character quite well. J. Todd Adams captures the eagerness of the younger American negotiator, who has been kicked upstairs to handle the next round of disarmament talks.

Director Richard Baird’s steady hand is seen in the play’s fine development.

The play thoughtfully works on two levels: both the personal interaction of the two characters and the far-reaching implications of global talks about mutually assured destruction.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.