Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The Parkway Theatre
(formerly the Rolland Theatre)
1768 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened on September 28, 1935.



by Harry Kalmanowitz, music by Yasha Kreitzberg


The Cast of Characters:






This review was written by Leon Fogelman and appeared in the Jewish Forward on October 18, 1935:

Each time when I go to see H. Kalmanowitz's play, I focus on a certain well-known content. Every time I expect a drama that is based on the troubles of ungrateful children, on sacrifices that a mother makes for them, on a clash between husband and wife and their children in general, on a family drama that constantly revolves around a husband and wife, parents and children.

These are Kalmanowitz's beloved themes, and here it should be pointed out, are like fish out of water. And most of all, he manages to present a vivid picture of Jewish family life, a scene that is constantly interspersed with sentimental threads, and often times also with a little humor. Also this time the writer handles a similar theme in is new play, "In a House of Glass," which is now playing at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn.

In Kalmanowitz's new play there is exploited the old, dramatic "triangle," the triple-play that have been treated for a long time in hundreds of various plays, and in various languages -- the triple-play, which consists of a man, of his wife, and of his lover.

Here in the triple-play, you see, there is a Jew, but the Jewishness consists only in the name of the hero of the play, and in the language, with which they speak. In every other reference, it is a drama that has less to do with this or that place, with a definite time and environment.

The entire content can be summarized in short, this way: A married Jewish doctor, who has an evil wife and two children, is in love with a young, Jewish girl. Due to the children, he maintains his family life and secretly pursues his love with the girl, who waits for him for eighteen years. When his children grow up, they hinder the father from separating from their mother and from legally associating with the lover. Naturally the relationship with the doctor cools off, and she, the beloved, loves the poor one alone, is without misery and forsaken of all. Even her second admirer, who has been waiting for her all these years, leaves her too, and he chooses to marry someone else.

Young girls can learn a lesson here, that to have a "left" love [i.e. an affair] is not at all a convenient thing; Uriah, the doctor in the play, has had enough troubles because of this; and a married woman here can learn a moral, that through children ...

And all of us here can learn about this brand new idea, that children are sometimes hard chains that can very often bind a husband, even when he does not love his wife, who do not let us live and act as they please.

This is the content and the moral of the new drama. The play is naturally called  a "comedy-drama," in the time that in the action there are not even any signs, any drops of comedy. When this or that person in a play tells a joke, or sings a comedic couplet, it doesn't mean that the play, through this alone, is transformed into a comedy.

In truth, "In a House of Glass" is a drama that has a few, melodramatic features that also is mostly played melodramatically.

In a natural way, without exaggerated gestures and tenor, the role of a suffering mother is played by Bettie Jacobs. She does not have much to do on the stage, but in the short moments when she comes out to act, she is convincing with her quiet, reserved demeanor in her acting.

Jacob Jacobs plays the role of a carefree husband, a good-natured worker who is happy with everything. He is happy when he works, and he also doesn't take it strongly to heart when he goes around empty [?]. To him, therefore, the word is good. It is not in vain that he sings there in couplets, "S'iz a mekhaye, mir is gut!" ("It's a pleasure, I'm fine!") ...

Peter Graf gives quite a fine performance as an old father. When the writer creates the older characteristics, the peculiar features, Graf knows how to create an interesting type. He has the needed actor's abilities.

Louis Birnbaum is quite good, entirely natural, who plays the type of a loyal and unsuccessful admirer of a young girl. But also in his role the writer, sadly, does not give him any peculiar, character features.

The ungrateful role of the doctor's wife, the evil woman, falls to Minnie Birnbaum.

Helen Appel tries to interject a little humor into her role of the wife, who has a carefree, light-hearted husband. The writer helped himself a little in that ...

This doctor is played by Nathan Goldberg with his ever-calm manner with his ever-slow pace.

And Rose Goldberg here is this suffering, beloved young girl who had the patience to wait for the doctor for the whole eighteen years, only to lose all her hopes and to be left alone in complete disappointment.

Mildred Block has performed with temperament in the role of the doctor's younger daughter.

She and Eddie Friedlander quite lively and naturally performed in the dramatic scene, when they come to father's beloved with a demand that she leave him alone.

William Schwartz plays the role of a young man, a plumber, who is betrayed by his bride and who surrenders afterwards because of this to the bitter drop. As a singer he has less to do: He sings only an aria from an opera, which is artificially inserted into the play.



Photo of the Parkway Theatre courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

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