May 13, 2013
For Paul Hoffmann, a Jewish student at the University of Berlin, life would be sweet if he could write poetry and, of course, graduate. But since the year is 1933, his life is about to take a very different turn — one that leads him back to Elizabethan England, where his idol, William Shakespeare, is having a crisis of his own. Shakespeare’s theatre company expects him to write an anti-Jewish play that will incite the public against Dr. Rodrigo Lopez, a crypto-Jew accused of planning to poison Queen Elizabeth. But there is a problem: Shakespeare knows that Lopez is innocent. Will Shakespeare remain loyal to the truth and his friends in London’s crypto-Jewish community or sacrifice Dr. Lopez to further his own career? As Shakespeare struggles over his rewrites of the play that will be known as “The Merchant of Venice,” questions are raised for Paul Hoffmann, as well: in a world where he can no longer be a German, can he find the courage to rewrite the “script” and be, first and last, a Jew?