Martin Sherman's play Messiah is set in Poland in 1665, following the Cossack uprising against the Poles on the southeastern borderland of the Ukraine. Over one third of the once thriving and independent Jewish community has been slaughtered and the rest impoverished. During this time the people became obsessed with visions of salvation and Kabbalah, the mystical interpretation the scriptures, became a primary force. There was an all-consuming certainty that the Messiah would finally arrive.
In 1626 a son was born to a Jewish family of Spanish origin in Asia Minor, His name was Sabbatai Sevi, He was ordained a Sephardic rabbi at the age of eighteen...