By Suzi Brozman Louis Gregory, who grew up in Roswell, plays the peacemaker brother, Jonah, in “Bad Jews.” (Courtesy of Actor’s Express)
He grew up Jewish, the son of a cantor (Barbara Margulis of Temple Kehillat Chaim), so when Louis Gregory says he knows about his religion, he’s not kidding.
“It helped me relate to the character and the situation,” Gregory said. “All of Dad’s family were killed in Europe, except those already in the States before World War II. Mom’s family had a department store in Germany. It was ruined on Kristallnacht. They moved to Cuba, then to Georgia, so my family history made it easier to connect.”
Growing up in Roswell was not quite like New York, but Gregory found the “Bad Jews” script very workable. “This was natural, the way people talk. Because of that, people can relate to it.”
But do they relate? “Oh, yes, positively. One thing theatergoers talk about is Daphna. Some of what she says isn’t right, but that’s the point. She’s a 22-year-old girl finding herself — you get things wrong, you’re headstrong. People are saying they know each of these characters, telling how they relate to it because they know people just like them.”
Gregory said that when he read the script, he saw the show as a drama with comedic moments, but in rehearsal the cast found the audience laughing at the comedy. That produced a new element. “Some of that laughter comes out of the tension, awkward moments. I’ve always found it difficult to call something comedy or drama; there’s always both aspects.”
His interpretation of the play: “All the bickering, selfishness — the fact that they’re letting that take over when it’s to be a time of family and grieving — they’re losing the whole point. Liam likes being the bad Jew, making a statement. On the other hand, Daphna is the super Jew, a thing Jewish people say. It raises the question: What does it mean to be a bad Jew? Eating a cheeseburger, going by what other people say, what makes a Jew a real Jew is what it’s asking.”
Gregory’s real life is far from dull. He interprets Spanish at a health clinic, works at a French bistro and teaches medical students how to perform physicals, all in between acting.