Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
 Bronx
 

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The Prospect Theatre
851 Prospect Avenue, Bronx, NY
This production opened on August 30, 1929.

 

"FOR A MOMENT OF HAPPINESS"
by William Siegel

 

The following review, written by "H.R.," was published in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on September 6, 1929.

Nathan Goldberg opened his Prospect Theatre last Friday with a melodrama, "For a Moment of Happiness," from the well-known drama-maker William Siegel. The hero of the play is, as in all of the melodramas, a man with every virtue. A good man who is honest, quiet and above all, he excels in his devotion to his mother, who is unfortunately a widow. This the same with the heroine. She also is a good and fine person, and an idealist. And as she is the heroine, she also is very beautiful. The intrigue is with the hero's brother. He is, on the contrary, a perverted man, a weakling, a runner, a semi-gangster.

The drama unfolds when the heroes are implanted within a murder mystery on the same night when he hero declares that he is in love and takes her home to [meet] his mother. The true murderer is an Italian who, together with the hero's brother, has held up the person who they murdered. The innocent heroine is arrested, her lover learns the truth, that she is innocent and that his own brother is mixed up in the murder. The hero arrives. So, between two fires. If he remains silent, that his innocent beloved will be judged; if he will speak out and tell the truth, his brother will get the electric chair, and his mother will then surely die from a broken heart.



As in all the melodramas, everything ends well -- And the beloved shall go forth free; and the brother remains at home. The entire melodramatic wrath went out of the head of the Italian; he paid with his life.

In the action there are some people who are involved who have little to do with the main story. For that matter, however, these side characters create quite a few simple amusements. And the play is put together so that the light, amusing scenes balance the "strong" melodramatic scenes, and they are not badly built into the piece.

The play does not give the opportunity for actors to excel. The roles are old, washed out. Nathan Goldberg in the role of the hero plays with a great deal of temperament. His makeup is good, his action is good. But after all, the role does not provide an opportunity for "artistic work." There are no delicate features, no nuances, no shadows. Everything is humorous, the speech and the action template, and with the best will and greatest effort the actor in it can not show anything new artistically.

Honesty must be spoken about Mrs. Goldberg in role of the heroine. Mrs. Goldberg is a talented actress. She is able to enliven a role, and make it intelligent. But the role of the play does not give her any opportunity to show her artistic personality. Everything that she does, and everything that she says in the play has already been done and said many times. Many times before. This is regrettable.

Right in the side roles here there was a couple who come out entirely interesting: Indeed, it was because they are associated with the nothing-much play.

photos: Nathan and Rose Goldberg.

Morris Dorf in the role of Motl the restaurant proprietor has created a type and performs it in a very talented way. He plays the role of a restaurant keeper, a Litvak. And on stage he is really a "roasted Litvak," with all the features. When I have seen him act [in the past], I was absolutely convinced that he was born somewhere in Lithuania and had spoken Lithuanian Yiddish all his life. It was a surprise for me to hear that he is a Galicianer. There are very few actors who can take over a foreign dialect so brilliantly. However he does this absolutely perfectly. Thus his action, his acting, his movements are so entirely artistic and halting, that he creates a lively and interesting person for you. He is an exceptional character actor.

Miss Ethel Dorf in the role of "Cecile" is also very sympathetic. It is the first time that I have seen the actress on the Yiddish stage. She makes a very good impression. She is beautiful, sings well and holds herself well on the stage. Her role is very light, almost a vaudeville role. It will be interesting to see her in a greater role.

Among the other participants in the play are: Paula Kleida, Annie Augenblick, Kadie Kaplan, Arthur Tracy, Hyman Rappaport and Alex Lifshitz.

 

 

 

 

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