Nathan the Wise ★★★★☆

Stark Sands & F. Murray Abraham in “Nathan the Wise” (photo: Richard Termine)

Classic Stage Company
March 23rd thru May 1st
Opened April 13, 2016

Written by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Translated by Edward Kemp
Directed by Brian Kulick

Leave it to Artistic Director Brian Kulick and the Classic Stage Company to find an obscure classic like “Nathan the Wise” by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing to bring us all to our senses!  First published by Lessing in 1779 but not performed until 1783 in Berlin, “Nathan the Wise” is set in Jerusalem in 1192 at a moment when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side-by-side in a fragile peace that threatened to dissolve at any moment.  Translated at CSC by Edward Kemp and starring the Oscar-winner F. Murray Abram as Nathan, a pious Jewish merchant, the crux of “Nathan the Wise” involves the ruling Sultan forcing Nathan to answer the eternal question: which religion is the one most loved by God?  Nathan needs to come up with an answer that will secure the continued safety of his people as well as keep his head attached to his body.  He employs the famous ‘Ring Parable’ to secure an answer the Sultan will accept and, as delivered by the estimable Abraham, it’s riveting stuff.

A surprisingly fascinating piece of theatre, Kulick’s production is well-acted and couldn’t be more timely.

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