"Critic's Pick" Backstage West "Recommended" LA Weekly There is a war going on in the Middle East. The flashpoint is Jerusalem. Can Muslims, Christians, and Jews ever live in peace? Aren't we all brothers and sisters? The year is 1192. Richard Sewell's new adaptation of Gotthold Lessing's 18th Century classic, Nathan The Wise gets its West Coast Premiere from the Southern California Jewish Repertory Company. The consequences of actions taken by opposing forces in the 12th Century that the play depicts are still being felt eight centuries later. During the time of the Crusades, Kurt, a Knight Templar captured by the forces of Sultan Saladin, grows to fall in love with Rachel, a Jewish maiden and daughter of Nathan The Wise. Rachel is smitten with Kurt, who has saved her life rescuing her from a fire. Beyond any usual problems present in a prospective cross-cultural union, both Kurt and Rebecca have hidden secrets in their pasts that Nathan suspects. He attempts to delay the rush of events while he investigates matters that will reveal the truth to all. Meanwhile, Nathan is betrayed by Daja, a Christian woman he employs as Rachel's guardian. She schemes to have Nathan charged with an infraction that will invoke a death penalty. Saladin, ruler of Jerusalem, is loath to see harm come to Nathan, a Jewish merchant whose success is exceeded only by his kindness and generosity to others. Short of a miraculous turn of events, there may be little that Saladin can do to save him. Pavel Cerny directs.