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The Amphion Theatre
437 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on
October 23, 1931.

(Does It Pay to Love?)

by Simon Wolf


This theatre review was written by D. Kaplan for the Jewish Forward newspaper, and was first published on October 23, 1931:

The Amphion Theatre in Williamsburg is now presenting a new play, already in its third season, and again it is quite a pure literary thing, finely staged and finely acted. When a theatre strives in these difficult times to give the public better, cleaner goods, such a theatre truly deserves a compliment. And justifiably they deserves such a compliment, the company actors of Amphion Theatre, which is serious, as we have already noted, to win among the Jewish population of Williamsburg a fairer name for this theatre, as it had before.

The play is called: "Does It Pay to Love?"; the content, or subject, is a serious and an interesting one. In the hands of a great artist there would have come out of this a true literary wok, a strong drama or a serious, classical novel. Unfortunately, in some places he has compiled the individual parts in a very tanned way, so that the stitches with the threads looked huddled together. Yet the thing in general is relatively good and purely literary, and the performance makes a pleasant, fine impression.

A girl loves a blind, young man. The girl, Fenitshke, a daughter of a hotel keeper in the mountains, has better prospects for a shidakh. Her parents want her to marry the rich young man Dave Ptashkin, a storekeeper in the mountains, who is a very honest, fine man, and who is strongly in love with Fenitshke, however, loves the blind Morris Minkin, a chemist who had lost his lungs from certain chemical substances while working on an invention. No speech helps, nor complaints. When the parents drive Morris out of the house, she leaves with him.

Fenitshke gives herself up "lion and life" to her Morris. Not paying attention to him as one does to a helpless child, he does all the work in the chemical lab to see his invention come to fruition, and they travel the world, with Morris visiting the greatest doctors to make his eyes healthy.

And they succeeded: Morris is a visionary; his invention is a success. They already give him a quarter of a million dollars for that. Great is their happiness. Soon they set up for the wedding.

Suddenly, however, he was struck by a terrible disaster. Fenitshke becomes involved in an explosion of chemical uptake substances in the laboratory. She is barely hanging on to life. After six months in the hospital, she comes home a cripple with broken legs.

For the time being, a funny girl joined forces with Morris, one of those American girls looking to catch a rich groom "by hook and by crook," whether I like it or not, whether it's unique or very disgusting. Morris, who now appears to be nothing more than a mere flesh and blood, falls into her like an idol. He gives up on his precious Fenitshke, with her beautiful soul and golden heart, she who now has become a disgusting cripple, with her beautiful face of the young beauty.

For Fenitshkie this is, of course, a horrible blow, much more horrible to her heart than the explosion on her body. She leaves for her father in the mountains, and the ending is, that the old love, Dave Ptashkin, the caretaker, the true love, marries her.

*      *      *

As you see, it is a serious play with exceptional stuff for a strong drama. The name, "Does it Pay to Love?," does not correctly express the essence of the drama. About love in general, one can not ask whether it pays off. When one loves the truth, one does not consider whether it is worthwhile or not.

The production, as it is said, is a fine and pleasant purity. The actors play almost entirely well. Sadie Schoengold, as Fenitshke, mainly plays in several moments very pleasantly, with feeling and taste, and strongly won the sympathy of the audience. She possesses, in a significant measure, personal appeal and a sweet-sounding speech that appeals to the heart.

Sam Auerbach portrays as the simple, sincere love affair as Dave Ptashkin with his fine, artistic demeanor. Bennie Zeidman does not play badly in the role of Abraham Brodsky, Fenitshke's father, and he sings very tastefully, with feeling.

Simon Wolf plays very pleasantly in the role of Itsik Ptashkin, the tailor, who breaks into words and steps into the words "press" and "clean," sometimes in a successful way, sometimes with a secondary, not at all pure way.

A great attraction in the play is an eight-year-old boy, Abraham Schoengold, who plays as the orphan Sammy, Ptashkin's child. The small chevra-man is an actor with every pishtshevkes. He keeps himself free on stage, often better than the big ones, and performs his role excellently. And the audience strongly agrees with the child on the stage, and so after such beautiful content, shows so much intellect and "spunk."

Also satisfactory were: Ella Wallerstein, as Tsirl the widow; Sylvia Fishman, as her daughter; Helen Beda, as Annie; Liza Tuchman, as Sarah, Brodsky's wife; the handsome singer Max Kletter, as Morris Menkin; Abraham Lax, as Eddie the social director, and Max Henig, as Hersh Menkin.






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