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Tolstoy, Dickens and Jefferson walk into a room...




David Melville, Armin Shimerman and Larry Cedar in
David Melville, Armin Shimerman and Larry Cedar in "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord," now playing at the Geffen Playhouse.
Geffen Playhouse/Michael Lamont

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Charles Dickens, Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy are all trapped in a room. Their only way out: agreeing on the meaning of life.

Not an easy task.

It's the premise of the new play, "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord," now playing at the Geffen Playhouse. 

The three find themselves together in the afterlife, and eventually they figure out what they have in common: they all wrote their own versions of the gospels. 

Thomas Jefferson, for instance, created his "Jefferson Bible" late in life as a way to offer his interpretation of Christianity and faith. He made it by cutting and pasting selected verses from the King James Bible.

But now, these three men can't leave the room they're in until they agree together on a common gospel.

Playwright Scott Carter spent almost three decades working on the script. However he has a lot of experience watching people hash over big political and philosophical issues of the day: he's been the executive producer of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" since its 2003 debut.

Carter tells Take Two that the play sprung out of his own existential searching for faith after a medical emergency left him hospitalized, leading him to explore what faith meant to others.