A pivotal two weeks in history are dramatized in Lawrence Wright’s one-act Camp David. The Old Globe is presenting the Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage’s production of this riveting if oratorial play about the 1978 peace accords, when then-President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter hosted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (Ned Eisenberg) and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (Khaled Nabawy) at the rustic presidential retreat in Maryland. Wright’s Camp David is a tense meeting of the minds sprinkled with a little peanut-farm folksiness from the Carters (Richard Thomas and Hallie Foote).
While Thomas is the name star of Camp David, it is Nabawy’s grimly dignified Sadat and even more so Eisenberg’s multifaceted portrayal of Begin that hit the play’s highest notes of true drama. Begin’s fierce internal struggle fortifies and ignites the action, and Eisenberg is tremendous. (So is Walt Spangler’s scenic re-creation of the woodsy Camp David compound.) Though its principals speechify as much as they interact, Camp David is an absorbing show.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat