Museum of the Yiddish Theatre



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Parkway Theatre
(formerly the Rolland Theatre)
1768 St. John's Place, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on December 28, 1934.

(Foolish Mothers)

by Harry Kalmanowitz
review by Lazar Fogelman, published on December 28, 1934.


H. Kalmanowitz has written a new drama, of course, once again about mothers and children, and he has given it a name, "Foolish Mothers," and his new play is now being directed by Misha German in Brooklyn's Parkway Theatre.

Kalmanowitz has chosen one corner in life from which he creates all his dramas: this in the relationship between parents and their children. True, it is a rich source for dramatic considerations. When two different generations live under one roof, there must be constant conflicts, clashes and dramas.

But the dramatic clashes, which Kalmanowitz portrays in all of his plays, They are already very similar, as similar as twins. The same mother, the same children, the same mother and the same house. And even the main philosophy, even the main thought and close of the drama are also the same.

Also here, in the "Foolish Mothers," she is depicted as a mother (the "eternal mother," or the "foolish mother"). She sacrificed herself for the children, and the selfish children repay her with ingratitude.

The most important difference between Kalmanowitz's new family drama and his predecessor confirms this, that here the mother, the children and her husband accuse her of being an old-fashioned woman -- and therein, they say, lies the main trouble. She herself, it is said, belongs to the new world, and she -- to the old world. When she leaves, however, in a short time and they also become a "modern" woman, with a cigarette in their mouth. They are all flattered, and it turns out that they are not satisfied at all.

Kalmanowitz is honest as a dramaturg: He does not exaggerate, he does not seek artificial, false effects, he is honest to the life he portrays and is universally honest in his philosophy. But he is, unfortunately, not deep enough and not diverse enough to turn his family pictures into genuine -- artistic, original dramas. And his main weakness is what he often repeats.

And the particular weakness of the new play consists of this, that it is not dramatic enough. The first act, for example, has in it no sign in itself, no kernel of any kind of dramatic content. The act consists of two scenes that consist of only one scene, which only presents a picture of how people get in and get out of the same apartment, and that's the whole dramatic action there. The little dramatic stuff is found in the last two acts, and also could fit in, it seems, into one act.

The director has also inserted a couple of songs that do not come directly from the course of the play. Both the foreboding and the fleeting lighting effects do not fit into the strictly realistic tone and character of the drama. It's all one thing to wear a tank top for a weekly outfit, but we don't know about an old style of director ...

The main roles are played by Misha and Lucy German; she -- the mother, he -- the father.

Lucy German is the eternally kind-hearted, hardened and forsaken, old-fashioned mother, who has a constant tear in her voice and who maintains a constant tone of morality in her speeches.

Misha German here is the soft, heartless man and father, who is already a modern man, but who is planned in today's world much more than the fathers of the old world.

A tragi-comedy about a man who falls victim to his "stylish" wife, presents Irving Jacobson. He shows actorial abilities. he is eloquent and comical in his transition from an apparently strong character, from a man with "principles", to a weakling who suffers from his wife and children.

A second comical type is played by Yudl Dubinsky, who plays the role here first of a man who is weak and later of a widower, who settles in a strange house and becomes his own person there. Dubinsky here doesn't have a lot to do, but he does the best that one can do under the circumstances.

Frances Weintraub plays quite vividly and movingly the role of a modern dyed woman who smokes cigarettes and is active in "clubs" and at "bridge parties." She plays here, however, a bit too noisy and monotonous. One can, it seems to me, show more in such a character role.

Zvi Scooler, Goldie Lubritsky and Anna Toback are the ungrateful children. They pass on not badly the character traits that the author gave them. You feel a completely different world in them, like the world of their offended mother.

In the first act three small children play the same roles: F. [Frankie] Schechtman, E. [Evelyn] Grill, and S. Langman. They already feel entirely free and at home on the stage, but as experienced, grown-up actors.

The audience accepts "Foolish Mothers" with tearful eyes, sympathetic sighs and from time to time also with loud laughter.





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