Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Prospect Theatre
851 Prospect Avenue, Bronx, NY
This production opened on October 5, 1929

(The Eternal Bride)

by Louis Freiman, music by Philip Laskowsky


The following review, written by D. Kaplan, was first printed in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on November 29, 1929. Here it is:

The comedy-drama, "The Eternal Bride," by L. Freiman, which is playing now in the Prospect Theatre in the Bronx, contains an interesting theme, a characteristic side of human nature, of a woman's nature: a good-hearted, noble girl, who sacrifices herself for her sister, who is a wicked and corrupt person.

The girl is called Sonia. She came to America, worked hard and saved a thousand dollars. She wants to bring over her mother, sister and brother from Europe. But it seems like her bridegroom, a charlatan, is one of those dark souls who is preoccupied with cheating innocent girls, and on the night of the wedding he snatches the thousand dollars from her and disappears.

Sonia remains terribly disappointed, overwhelmed, but she continues to work, to save, and she finally brings over her mother, brother and sister. They all live on a farm that Sonia has bought and performs in it quite successfully.

Sonia is very good by nature, with an open hand. For her brother she buys a "butter and egg" store in New York, and when he needs a few dollars, he comes to Sonia and gets it. The younger sister, Helen, is sent to a university in California. A cousin remains in Europe, an orphan from a brother on her mother's side. Sonia also brings him over, and he stays with them in a house.

The cousin, Herman, is a fine young man, and he becomes the cause of the tragedy of Sonia's life.

Sonia falls in love with Herman. But as she is already an older girl, and she has no hope that the younger Herman would fall in love with her. It turns out, however, that Herman, who praises Sonia for her kindness and nobility, feels a strong love for her. Sonia again is in the supreme heaven of happiness. A new spring awakens in her heart, and she prepares for a wedding.

Here, however, Helen returns from the university, after she had not been home for three years. Helen is a fresh, gorgeous flower, but with a touch of the American fashion ... When she sees the pleasing young man, her cousin, she doesn't hesistate and drags him away for herself. She knows full well that with this will break the heart of her good sister, who has done so much for her. But she cares very little about that. She does not have one of those natures that reckons with a second's suffering when it comes to their own satisfaction, their own pleasure. She grew up in completely different circumstances and under a different influence. Like her sister Sonia, she is generally made of a much harder fabric. She does not want to know about her duties, or even about gratitude to her sister. And when she was in California, she became the mistress of a nasty, fellow man, who later turned out to be the same man who had once deceived Sonia.

When Sonia sees that Helen is in love with Herman, she decides to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of her sister's happiness. She explains to Herman that she doesn't love him, and that she is ill from consumption and must go away to Denver.

She goes away. A couple of years later they haven't heard from her, but when [she learns that] Helen is to marry Herman, she can not restrain herself and it comes out, "even though they can see from afar," as she says. The scene occurs between the two sisters. Helen accuses Sonia of taking her groom from her. Sonia gives her a present, and shows her that she is not blind and understands herself very well, and that if she wanted to she could actually take Herman, because Herman openly says that in truth he only loves Sonia. But Sonia does not want to stand by her sister's happiness, and she calls for Herman to marry Helen.

Here suddenly a male friend from California appears, who for a couple of years "lived" with Helen. He finds her in her wedding dress and demands of her that she return to him, or give him three-thousand dollars. They are alone, and he threatens her with a revolver in his hand. Word for word she slaps him, and when he raises the revolver, she starts to grab it with her hand. The revolver fires, but the bullet hits him.

At the pop of the revolver, everyone runs into the room. Sonia knows him: This is Bennie, who had fled with her thousand dollars in the last seconds before their wedding.

The police are coming. Helen cries out that this is what Sonia killed him for. Sonia doesn't say a word, takes the blame, and is sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.

At that time, when she came out of prison a gray, broken [woman], and she is looking for a place in an old-folks home. The superintendent of the old-folks home is Herman. He is still a young man. He never married Helen and does not know where she ended up. He still has not forgotten Sonia, and he takes her into his home.


Two such sisters are often found in life. Even between two friends you can find it. The only trouble is that in this play one of them, Sonia, is idealized, and the second, Helen, is portrayed as being very bad. Many things are just unbelievable, stupid. The current of the story, when it is separated from the rest of the chaff (and very plain chaff, unpleasant for a name with some taste), takes a very interesting life-course, but it is overworked, weak, and sometimes very tantalizing. However, the play has certain merits; some performances are not bad, and they are generally not played badly, especially considering our theatre audience and the demands of the stage.

Rose Goldberg, in the main role as Sonia, generally plays quite pleasantly and well in those moments where the situation comes out naturally and close to the truth. In unfortunate situations, the best actor looks wrong.

Ethel Dorf, as Helen, also plays well in the role that she needs to present. The same can be said for Nathan Goldberg, as Herman. Katie Kaplan, in the role of the hamatne farmer girl, is a bit too hamatne. And  the same can be said for Hyman Rappoport as her father, the farmer, old Eppel. It is an old sickness on the Yiddish stage, i.e. it is terrible to overdo it for the low taste of the common crowd.

In the play there also took part: Annie Augenblick, Isidor Meltzer, Harry Schlecker, Abe Dorf, and Moshe Dorf.





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