"Only a Doctor" by the deceased great
Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem is a well-known one-acter. Not once
has it been played in a small theatre, in a "miniature-evening." The
one-acter was also played at the impressive "Sholem Aleichem
evening", which last Sunday, February 10, was performed in the large
auditorium of the "Washington Irving High School." This was one of
the "writer evenings" that were so successfully organized by the
National Education Committee of the Workmen's Circle. Around eight
hundred people came to the Sholem Aleichem evening. Besides this
one-acter, there also was performed an interesting program, but
earlier -- before the "theatre number" of the evening.
It is being staged by the
"Free Yiddish Folks-bine," a branch institution of the Workmen's
Circle, which many times has given fine productions. Now one finds
the "Free Yiddish Folks-bine" under the direction of the
guest-director David Herman (he had directed Gottesfeld's "In-Laws"
in the Folks Theatre). Participating this time are only six actors
and actresses from the "Folks-Bine," because the one-acter is a
small production with less participants. (The stage technique is by
The story of Sholem Aleichem's one-acter is
well known. It is presented as rich Jewish people ("alrightniks"
of the old country), who struggle around to find a groom for their
single daughter, Verishka, a high school student. The mother wants a
doctor, but the father wants a merchant. This girl herself wants
"only a doctor," and her brother, Abram, also a high school student,
also screams, "Only a doctor". There is a war in the house; --
"A doctor!", "A merchant!" -- "Only a doctor!". A matchmaker arrives
and turns to and fro: "A doctor! "A merchant!" -- until he falls
upon a plan. He will give them both -- a merchant-doctor! ... Yes,
there is a maid in the house nearby who also wants a husband, and
also she wouldn't call a doctor ...
It happens a little in
the house. The title point is the matchmaker (played by Ely Arnou).
Everything revolves around him, and they battle. The father (played
by M. Predmest), is beside himself. He wants a merchant; the modern
women (played by Nadia Zaner), wants "only a doctor"; the matchmaker
throws himself to and fro. The high school student (played by
Lillian Blum) smiles, turns red, but she also wants a doctor; and
her brother, the high school student (played by Joshua Zeldis)
continues this with her.
It is clear that the stage director, David
Herman, has intended to bring out the matter more as an comic
exaggeration, rather than a humorous one. This may not be a bad
idea. But to play a caricature and stay in the romance of a
caricature, sustained and not oversalted, is more difficult than to
play a comedy, a realistic humoresque, a house-situation.
Contributors to the "Free Yiddish Folks-bine" who has manifested
various talents, have also done the best according to their
opportunities, but it is obvious that the explanation of the comic
exaggeration was too difficult for them to bring out. The maid was
not bad at all (Bronia Natan), and the bride (Lillian Blum). M.
Predmest has held himself up -- here as a true father, and there --
as a caricatured father ... so also the "Madam" (Nadia Zaner), but
they are good at following the men of the play. And Joshua Zeldis
did his best to bring out the "stuck" high school student.
Besides the one-acter, the audience in the same evening also had a
"theatre number," which was strongly received. This was the
performance of the actor Elihu Tenenholz. He forgot two things from
Sholem Aleichem creations, and both of them he not only imagined,
but acted out, playing it out in a very talented way.
well-known singer Meyer Steinwortzel was well accepted with his
singing of folk songs. The poet B.J. Bialostotzky, who contributes
to the "Forward," held a short lecture about "Sholem Aleichem
types." F. Epstein was the chairman of the evening.