Education and Research
"LIBE UN POLITIK"
The following review was written by L. Fogelman and first appeared in the Yiddish Forward newspaper on October 18, 1929.
In his program Gabel clearly expressed himself in one phrase of his solemn speech: "I do not want to educate the public. There is a public library on 42nd Street for this. I only want to amuse the audience."
And already with the first play that Gabel now is putting on, his "Love and Politics," he has clearly demonstrated that he is true to his program: the new play indeed cannot educate the audience. It can only amuse in this way, as Gabel understands the word "amuse."
Gabel's "Love and Politics" is a heartbreaking melodrama, where every act and every scene especially touches the audience to tears. Strong feelings erupt all the time in the drama. Feelings of bitter revenge and hot love; shades of death hover over virtually every scene, and the entire play is permeated with tragic content.
A young girl dies from an irreversible operation, a deceitful young man strikes with a revolver and kills himself. A second girl shoots herself in despair. A prominent old man stands in the shade of an electric chair due to a murder accusation, and his wife is paralyzed by trouble -- and so one tragic event happens after the second, and each event is performed with such melodramatic impact that you can literally not catch your breath for a minute. Were it not for the few comic scenes in the middle, the drama would have been a dark summer, with a spark of beauty and joy.
Two families in a city waging a perpetual war between each other are eternal enemies; both families also belong to two mainstream political parties, and therefore the hatred between them is even deeper and more thorough. Each of them wishes the other to be dead. There are children in both families, and it must happen, unfortunately, that the children of both hostile families fall in love with such a strong, faithful love, that there is no other way than to break the hatred of the parents, or to go against the wishes of the parents. The head of one family is the district attorney for the city: the chief of the second family is the publisher of a newspaper, and between both families the drama of "Romeo and Juliet" plays out. The children laugh, one after the other, and the parents stare; secret romances with tragic events take place. It reaches so far that the daughter of the editor dies from an "abortion." The seducer (just the editor's ward) shoots himself, and the editor accuses the district attorney of murder. The district attorney's daughter (who was also seduced by the same young man) also commits suicide. And it seems that the editor should go innocently to the electric chair. His defender is his own daughter, which leads to a love with the district attorney's son.
The ending is that the district attorney rejects his complaint because he learns that his own deceased daughter is involved in the story of the young man's suicide. He wants to save the honor of his daughter, and through this he also rescues the editor from the blood libel and from death.
As in most of the melodramas, the ending is a cheerful, a happy one: both of the families are good friends, their children get married, and the old wounds are gradually healed. The audience goes away from the theatre with light hearts.
They played the melodrama with genuine melodramatic tenor; especially high melodramatic was Jennie Goldstein. She performed the role of the daughter hasty, a bit too hasty. She played with temperament and restraint. She is generally a fine actress, and she has the possibility of performing in a role with more artistic means, more controlling of her temperament, more contained and still. Strong experiences and feelings can be expressed quietly and restrained, thus making a stronger impression. And she would, it seems, be able to prove it, because she, as I have already remarked is a capable actress.
That this is correct, one could see from the manner in which Max Gabel and also Boris Rosenthal have performed their dramatic roles. They both just play with better, more artistic means, having that high, exaggerated dramatic tone, and they both make an impression.
Max Gabel has conveyed in an impressive manner the difficult experiences of this district attorney. He has created a type. He is believable as this "district attorney." And in performing his role he has used restraint and quiet features, there is a feeling that is more of an internal force, as in loud screams and bitter cries.
So also with Boris Rosenthal, who belongs to the better actors that the Yiddish stage possesses. His acting is restrained and natural. He thus makes an impression, even in the artistic and melodramatic moments and situations.
Abe Sincoff has inserted quite a bit of humor and laughs with the way he holds himself, and with his comic way of speaking and acting on the stage.
Goldie Eisman and Marty Baratz are a fine pair in the roles of lovers who are, unfortunately, not allowed to get married. Especially good is Goldie Eisman, who shows personal appeal and a lively temperament. She moves well on the stage, and she creates a cheerful mood with her light playfulness.
Goldie Lubritsky performs in the role of the district attorney's daughter, with a sharp melodramatic color. The expression of despair in her was a little stronger, a little too strong.
It would not be harmful to lower this tone. But in general it was quite good.
Samuel Rosenstein plays the role of the district attorney's son: this is a colorless type of a young man, a weakling, who trembles before his father. As for Rosenstein, did he really come out pale and bloodless: without real weakness?
With vigorous colors the political boss is portrayed by George Gilday. From his prose and from the various creative movements, you could see for yourself the type of a mighty boss who drives a political machine with an iron hand.
Good also was Simon Wolf in his character role.
Mary Wilensky did not perform badly in the role of the editor's wife.
The student, the seducer of girls, is played by Sam Gertler with temperament. With sharp movements, and with a gangster-like benevolence.
Quite lively is Saltsche Schorr, who plays the dramatic scene with the student as the suspicious Hazel.
And not bad was Sam Sassoon with his dumb movements and glances, who plays the role of the gangster.
Also participating are Beckie Cohen, Miss Berger, Irving Honigman, Mr. Finkelstein, Mr. Eislen, Louie Landman, Minnie Gilrod and Perry Cohen.
The settings of the play is quite rich; the
musical numbers, composed by Herman Wohl, are pleasing to the ear.
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