A Coat of Many Colors - Putting Jewish Characters on Stage - Book Review

A Coat of Many Colors - Putting Jewish Characters on Stage

Author: Roy Schreiber
Genre: Fiction - Drama
Publisher: BookBaby
Date Published: February 1, 2024
ISBN-10: 9781620952399
ISBN-13: 979-8350932010

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Book Review of :  A Coat of Many Colors - Putting Jewish Characters on Stage


 "A Coat of Many Colors" by Roy Schreiber is an anthology of five plays featuring Jewish characters. Each character, except for Shakespeare's infamous "Shylock," is based on a real person. These characters are as diverse as possible: a college professor, a Tahitian queen, a Hollywood scriptwriter, and the renowned magician Harry Houdini.

"Margery Meets Harry" is a fifteen-act play that showcases the famous magician Harry Houdini as he outsmarts Margery Crandon, an American psychic medium claiming to channel her deceased brother, Walter Stinson. Margery's fame surged when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, invites her to help contact his deceased son and subsequently endorsed her abilities.

Magician Harry Houdini, who was Jewish, challenged Margery to contact his deceased mother, leading to an outcome she did not anticipate and allowing Houdini to debunk her claims. This confrontation sparked animosity between the two celebrities. The play concludes intriguingly with Margery claiming responsibility for Houdini's death.

 Another of Schreiber's plays, "Good Deeds," narrates the poignant story of Salka Viertel, a renowned Jewish screenwriter who faces hardships for aiding Jewish artists fleeing Nazi Europe. She tirelessly recruits others to sponsor a group of traumatized Jewish artists who narrowly escaped Hitler's death trains and extermination camps. These remarkable individuals, whom Viertel helps to rescue, significantly enriched America's film culture and intellectual life. Their enduring influence continues to resonate today.

This play serves as a powerful reminder of the strength, resilience, and unwavering compassion of individuals like Salka Viertel, who risked everything to do what was right. It also sheds light on the immense impact that one person's actions can have on the lives of others. Despite facing unimaginable cruelty, Viertel never wavered in her determination to help those in need.

This play holds great significance as we strive towards a more just and inclusive society. It reminds us that our actions, no matter how small they may seem, can have far-reaching impacts beyond our own lives.

In the first play, "Shylock Revisited," the determined protagonist relentlessly pursues Antonio, the merchant of Venice, to ensure he pays his debt. By delving into the complexity of this character, Schreiber challenges us to examine our biases and prejudices. The play explores themes of revenge, justice, and identity as Shylock grapples with being both a Jew and an outsider in a society that discriminates against him.

"Educating Henry Adams" unfolds in Washington, DC, chronicling a man's journey through education and personal growth. The story begins with an intriguing conversation about Henry's interest in Clover Adams and the slow progression of their relationship. The final play, "The Optimist," presents interconnected storylines and diverse characters, weaving a rich tapestry of narrative threads.

Schreiber's use of historical context lends authenticity and relatability to the plays' characters, fostering empathy and connection with their shared humanity. The plays also delve into deeper themes such as identity and morality, inviting introspection and critical thinking from the audience.

In addition to his thought-provoking content, Schreiber's masterful use of language and dialogue captivates the reader's attention and evokes a range of emotions. From witty banter to poignant monologues, each word is carefully chosen to convey the characters' inner thoughts and motivations.

Moreover, Schreiber's plays highlight the power and impact of storytelling in shaping our understanding of the world and ourselves. Through his vivid depictions of human experiences, he challenges societal norms and offers new perspectives on complex issues.

Reviewed by: James B.

About Roy Schreiber


I began as a biographer and drifted over into writing plays, mainly about historical figures. I am a member of the Dramatists Guild and a Network Playwright with Chicago Dramatists. I also belong to Biographers International Organization (BIO) and the Authors Guild.

Visit http://www.royschreiber.com for more information on Roy Schreiber


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