Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
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The Rolland Theatre
(later the Parkway Theatre)
1768 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY
This production opened in February of 1930.

 

"LIBE OYF OYSTSOLN"
(LOVE IN INSTALLMENTS)

by Israel Rosenberg and Isidore Friedman, music by Sholom Secunda

   


The Cast of Characters:
 

Yudl
Dubinsky
Mildred
Block
Harry
Feld
Annie
Lubin
Isidore
Friedman
Betty Simonoff Isidore
Lipinsky
Ella
Wallerstein
Misha
German
Lucy
German
Louis
Hyman

 

Lili

This review was written for the Forward newspaper by D. Kaplan and was published on March 7, 1930. Here it is.


The musical comedy, "Love in Installments," which now is being presented at the Rolland Theatre in Brownsville, treats a very interesting topic -- the question of a "trial marriage," a marriage on probation, so that afterwards it may become stronger and deeper.

R' Simkha Ginzburg [Louie Hyman] has two daughters, Lili [Lucy German] and Dolly [Betty Simonoff]. Lili, the eldest, is not married, and in general she does not want to get married. She knows them, the men, who are scoundrels and she hates them, she says. And happiness from married life she also knows quite well. All the good evidence comes in handy during a scene between Dolly and her husband [Harry Feld]. Dolly's husband, a lawyer, leads a "leftist" love [i.e. an affair] with Aneta Meyers [Mildred Block], Dolly's best friend. He gives her presents and "dates" her, and Dolly discovers this from a letter she finds in her husband's pocket. The scandal would have come out in public had the wise Lili not have been alert and cunning.

Lili does not want to seek such happiness from married life. But is this as the scripture says? On each side, the "defeat" happens once. And Lili's did not turn out either. A young man was found, Eddie Feldman, a farmer, a fresh, healthy, upright man, who loves her and also wins her heart. When he asks for her hand, she explains to him that she is not going to marry; she doesn't believe it, that one can find happiness in married life. But she is ready to give it a try. She says that she will try it for a year's time, to find out if they really love each other and can be happy. If one of them in the span of a year falls in love with imitations [i.e. someone else], they may leave the marriage and go in good health. They only want to marry beforehand, and before the world they will be called man and wife, but they will live separately as two strangers.

According to all the rules of "trial marriages," as he sees it, however, with a strong "smirk," it is a dangerous condition that can make a mess of such trials, even with the most sincere intentions. This condition, however, currently provides an excellent opportunity to bring out onto the stage, a wonderful, highly interesting situation to create fun, laughter and touching moments.

Feldman, of course, has one of everything. What one lover will not agree on, even to find himself near his Teibele! But it soon becomes apparent, naturally, that a human being is too weak to fight against nature: nature owes her debt. For four months they lived as two strangers in separate bedrooms. The "stronger" man was, as usual, weakened before the "weak" woman. Feldman [now] can no longer endure such a life of two bedrooms, of love in installments, of love no more than on a sharp knife, and he takes from his wife what nature demands of him. Lili, however, wants nothing else but that he should abide by the conditions of their contract, although she herself does not feel overwhelmed in her struggle against her own nature.

Here funny scenes are played out from which the audience cooks with laughter. No words are needed and no jokes; a face, a wink, a touch openly expresses the hidden feelings of the pair that fights in vain to stifle them. And all of this is pierced with heartfelt, touching, and also funny and cheerful songs.

The problem is solved in a very prosaic manner. Assistance to the pair comes from Meir Zeitchik, the matchmaker. Feldman confides in him about his troublesome embarrassment and asks for advice. He gives him the old advice to make his wife jealous: he should fall in love with a second [woman], and so on, and the woman will already become better.

Feldman decides to do it:  So strongly, knowingly, two bedrooms were pressed against him. And who can serve such a purpose as the aforementioned Aneta Meyers, the flapper, who says that since men give presents, why shouldn't she take them? She just arrived at Feldman's farm for a vacation. Feldman slaps her with a compliment, puts her on his lap and kisses her. Lili comes upon this, and it becomes a scandal. Everything runs together. Lili cries that she will kill him, he did not keep up with the terms of the contract. But Feldman, she, Lili, claims to have brought him there: he could no longer put up with the two bedrooms.

It all ends well. Lili, who also alone is deeply in love and greatly weakened, also wants to put an end to this problem. She forgives him, and they truly become husband and wife, as the order of the world demands.

*      *      *

The comedy is very fine and principally clean. The aforementioned scene, where the husband was resigned to be against the two bedrooms, contain a very delicate situation, which gives enough possibilities for haunting, tickling scenes. And the temptation must be great for actors on the Yiddish stage not to take advantage of such an opportunity to present the public with a portion of smatterings. Therefore the Germans must receive a compliment, who perform in the main roles of Lili and Feldman, for the decent purity of their acting in these scenes. Lucy German pleasantly plays and sings heartily deliciously. In the first act, however, it feels earthy, as if she committed to her memory her role a little too well: she answers too quickly, more machine-like than natural.

Joel [Yudl] Dubinsky plays the matchmaker, Meir Zeitchik. In his usual manner he plays the role all right and in moments shows his sympathetic talent.

Annie Lubin sings fine and plays in a lively way. Playing satisfactorily is Mildred Block as Aneta Meyers, and Betty Simonoff as Dolly. The same about Louie Hyman as R' Simkha Ginzburg. Also participating were: Harry Feld, as the lawyer, Max Block, Dolly's husband; Isidore Friedman, as Bernard, Max's partner; Isidore Lipinsky, as Harry, the worker with R' Simkha in the store; and Ella Wallerstein as Tsipe.

 

 




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

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