The scenario has all the elements of a 21st-century action movie or a best-selling political thriller, but it is a true story that occurred in 1858 in Bologna, Italy, when the Inquisitor of the Papal States ordered a 6-year-old boy, Edgardo Mortara, to be taken from his Jewish family on the grounds that he had been secretly baptized by a Roman Catholic servant and could no longer be permitted to live among Jews.
The incident and its repercussions were described by David I. Kertzer, a Brown University professor, in his 1997 book "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara," a finalist for the National Book Award. Now the book has been adapted for the stage by Alfred Uhry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist ("Driving Miss Daisy"). The resulting play, "Edgardo Mine," begins previews at the Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut on Thursday. The cast includes Brian Murray, Randy Graff, Robert LuPone, Spencer Kayden and Michael Countryman.
Mr. Murray portrays Pope Pius IX, who sanctioned Edgardo's abduction and treated him as an adopted son, guiding the child of a Jewish merchant into a life as a Catholic priest. Mortara died in 1940 at the age of 88.
A film version of the story, starring Anthony Hopkins as Pius IX, has been in the works for a while, but this article indicates that the project was questionable by the end of September as its production company teetered on the edge of collapse.