Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


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The National Theatre
111-117 East Houston Street, NY, NY
This production opened on October 23, 1932.

(Two Hearts)

by Chaim Tauber, music by Rubin Ostrofsky.
review by Hillel Rogoff, published on December 9, 1932.


"Two Hearts" is a melodrama, and in a melodrama the whole weight is determined by strong actions. There are strong conflicts, heart-rending scenes. A lot of tears are shed. And it goes without saying that all those who suffer and sigh and cry are good people, innocent victims of intriguers and scumbags. Delivery of the content comprehensively is not needed; it is enough to indicate the general features of the play's action.

A highly gifted musician (Simon Green) is married to a beautiful woman (Sarah Green), and they have a five-year-old child (Chickie). In the house a friend (Paul Harin) enters. The friend falls in love with Mrs. Green and talks to her alone, suggesting that she should go away with him to Italy. She has a good voice, and he assures her that there in Italy she will be a great opera singer.

Five years flies by. Green lives in great poverty. Since his wife had left him he couldn't maintain himself. He can't come to his senses, and he gets drunk and lives off what he plays in a cheap cabaret. His only comfort is his child who leads the household, and Green is drunk during the day and works at night.

After five years the wife returns. She is rich but unhappy. Her lover, however, had left her long ago. She is lonely and still longs for her child. A struggle ensues between them: who should have the child? The youngster stays with the father. He remains at home.

But during the same night something terrible happened. The youngster steals money from the landlady of the house. He did it out of love for his father, who is ill and must travel to the country. The father, however, gets scared and leads the child to the mother, from whom he was able to get a good education.

But Green cannot live without the child. He become sick. He has no hope of surviving. Here now, however, the child returns. He has fled from his mother. He has come to see his father. The youngster suggests that his parents should invite [to meet with] each other. The mother comes looking for the youngster. And finally the youngster succeeds in making peace. The parents again take him in and everything ends well.

The two heroes of the drama are the father and the youngster. The roles are played by Samuel Goldinburg and Hershele Bernardi. I indeed want to, as always, to say several words about "Hershele." He is the "hit" of the play. In the last two acts he appears onto the stage almost the entire time. In the second act he plays, believe me, from the start of it until the end, with a break for only a couple of moments. This in itself is already to be admired, I mean simply the physical work, the nervous effort.

But this is not the main thing. The young guy really acts -- he plays like an experienced actor. I don't want to say that he is ordinary, that he conducts every scene exceptionally well. That would be too much to expect. But in general, taking it all in, he does an excellent "job." Some moments, especially the important ones, the strong ones come out as truly artistic. He is weaker in the light scenes, the half-funny ones; maybe that's why he doesn't treat them with the necessary seriousness; he doesn't give them enough attention.

Goldinburg in the role of the father, the musician, always plays with intelligence and conviction. I liked him as much as possible in the first act, especially in the happy family scene, and later in the dramatic convergence with his wife and her lover. He behaved naturally there and gave expression to his feelings in such an intelligent way.

In the later acts Goldinburg was already quite a bit melodramatic. As it turns out, the audience "enjoyed" him more; such crying, such hysterics among the audience I hadn't seen for a long time while I attended the Yiddish theatre. And this is evoked in almost all of Goldinburg's acting. He is the main sufferer; even the youngster's troubles are darkened by Goldinburg's "tragedy."

I say that Goldinburg adds a large portion of meloddramatic acting in this part of the play because in reality there is no reason to suffer as much as it appears. He is not so unhappy after all, and if he is sick and earns little to live on, it is he alone who is guilty because all of his misfortunes came because he had gotten drunk.

In the play there is a side character that has nothing to do with the main action. This character gives the audience a lot, with a lot of hearty laughter. He is called "Leibke," and he is a communist. The role is played by Reuben Wendorf.

Unwillingly, people remind themselves that a similar role has been played by the same actor in Chone Gottesfeld's very well-known comedy, "Parnose." There he called himself "Chaver Blitz," and the theatre audience will remember that "Chaver Blitz" was created for Wendorf's great popularity with the public and [received] many compliments from the critics.

The role of Leibke leads him through in the same manner, and he takes it very seriously. He seems to be born for the role. His attitude, his speech, his gestures and above all his smile fit the character that he represents in such a way that it seems that he cannot and must not look otherwise.

The other roles are smaller and less important, but they are all entrusted to competent actors. Those participating are: Yetta Zwerling, Sarah Krohner, Rose Wallerstein, David Dank, Louis Hyman, Anna Teitelbaum, Mrs. Hyman, Abe Gross and Yasha Rosenthal.





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