Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

   
 Manhattan 
 

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The Irving Place Theatre
118 East Fifteenth Street, New York, NY
Opened on January 16, 1939.

 

"IN A SHABES NOKHMITOG"
(One Sabbath Afternoon)

by D. Hagen, music by Harry Lubin

 

The folllowing review, written by L. Fogelman, first appeared in the Yiddish Forward newspaper of January 20, 1939.

"The new play, 'One Sabbath Afternoon,' by D. Hegen, which Joseph Buloff has now staged in the "Irving Place" Theatre, was translated and adapted from the English for the Yiddish stage by Jacob Fishberg.

I have, songs, the original English play not seen and can make a judgment about the currently adapted Yiddish production. To the credit of the translator It must be added that the play has become so paradisiacal that it does not feel at all like it was a gentile work.

"One Sabbath Afternoon" is a comedy that also has in it certain romantic and realistic features. It is built on the constant opposition between human dreams and reality. Here it is represented as such, that we often live an entire life with a longing after our first love, and then, when we met in later years the person who fascinated us in our youth, and who of course is now older, we are deeply disappointed by the unexpected sad changes that have taken place in the person we have loved in our youth.

It is not, we see, a new theme; but where do new themes arise? And really important is not so much the novelty of a theme as the approach to it, the way in which it is edited.

And here, in the comedy, the subject is being worked on in a very interesting way, a playful and humorous manner. All eight scenes of the two acts of the comedy evoke a lively interest for the spectator, although not every act has the same dramatic and artistic value.

The best act is the first, where there is portrayed in a humorous spirit the former Yiddish small-town life in Europe. Especially interesting here is the scene at the Yiddish theatre in a town called Soroke. Here you see comic characters, types and scenes that evoke in us memories of the past.

 

Here in the first act we see here an idyll, a quiet, naive, popular way of life. The second act is more dramatic and has in itself even certain moments; but the second act already loses the former humorous and grotesque character, which makes the play quite unique and entertaining.

 The drama revolves around a middle-aged dentist from Poughkeepsie with the name of Max Silver, who still longs for his once beloved girl Dora, from Soroke in the old country. His Dora, who was just indifferent to him, who married a second man, Siome, a rich young student from Soroke, who incidentally was a friend.

So sits the married dentist in Poughkeepsie, and he longs for former Dora from Soroke. First suddenly his former friend Siome, Dora's husband, comes to him in his office to heal a sick tooth; the dentist grits his teeth at his friend, and his eyes run through images and scenes of his past and of his unhappy love for Dora. Suddenly Dor also shows up in his office by herself, and he sees for himself instead of his former beloved, beautiful, slim Dora, a plump, swampy Jewess, with the abusive language of a yente [gossiper], from whom the former charming young girl has completely disappeared. Disappointed, the dentist burst out laughing. He laughs for his longing and dreams, and he loves and cherishes his own quiet and loyal wife Feigel.

As we see from the content, in the play there is a bit of substance to realistic idyllic scenes, and also for sentimental or romantic reflection. It's a very grateful material for some actors, although there is no strong drama here. Here the main interest of the production lies in the acting.
 


The offering itself has its own weaknesses. For example, the first scene, which led us into the drama, has a little appeal and is not filled enough with dramatic action. It is fortunate to have three such talented actors as Joseph Buloff, Michael Rosenberg and Kurt Katch; it already feels like there are empty places in the attracted scene. But the own weaknesses of the performance is of a better taste than the average Yiddish theatre.

The main role of the dentist is played by Joseph Buloff, one of the most talented actors that the Yiddish stage possesses. He became interested in acting from the very beginning and kept the public interest until the end. He succeeded better than ever the type of the young tailor in the first act. Motl's voluptuous youth and infatuation are fully felt in him. Blaser brings out the figure of the dentist, because there is a lack of color in the role itself.

Here Michael Rosenberg plays a side role of a barber with his unique Rosenberg appeal, but, unfortunately not with any especially new, interesting features. Here the role is guilty, which is not filled with character. Rosenberg fills in the empty spaces of his role with comical gestures and words that, incidentally, do not always stand up to the appropriate artistic height ...

Kurt Katch plays the role of the rich Siome, Motl's competitor in love. He plays in a very restrained and reserved manner.  It is felt in his acting; not only a talented and experienced actor, but also a performer who takes seriously his role and his acting in general.

Fannie Lubritsky plays very well in the role of the hopelessly in love Feigele, Motl's faithful and sacrficial wife. Here she shows her ability to portray with noble and touching features the image of a romantic woman.

Mirele Gruber is impressive as the small-town young and beautiful Dora, who has had success as a young person. Here she performs entirely homey. In the last scene, however, where she must portray a type of yente [gossiper], it feels that she had a little of the necessary comedy that is characteristic of that type.

Sylvia Fishman and Sara Krohner, who in the scene at the theatre, are extremely successful in their roles, but, unfortunately, they pass through their conversation in a too-loud, screaming tone.

Celia Boodkin is good in the role of Feigele's mother.

Leib Kadison is a characteristic Jewish theatre director from the former times, from the home country.

Here Jacob Mestel has only a small role of a lamplighter and fireman who has little to show.

Israel Mandel is exceptionally convincing as a type of ?eynish msin [?]. There is no opportunity to create a type, not by him, nor for the role.

The young, enticing Libby Charney is off stage, but there is no opportunity for her to act or to speak; this was unfortunate and not given.

 

 

 

 

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