"WHO IS GUILTY?"
(Ver is shuldig?)
Here is the plot of this play, as
described in the Yiddish Forward newspaper (in Yiddish), in
their November 10, 1944 edition. The writer of the article
described the play as "a melodrama with music." The program
above states that the main actors of the play are "nicely
assisted by songs, dances and an actor with the entrancing
name of Feivish Finkel." Here is the plot (in a nutshell) :
Alice Barkin (played by Lillian Lux), a
young and beautiful young lady, a daughter of rich parents,
falls in love with a young musician, Arnold Aronson (played
by Julius Adler.) Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Barkin (played
by Simon Wolf and Anna Toback) are against the match. They
would rather that their daughter marry another young man,
Morris Lieberman (played by Max Rosenblatt.) The young
musician (Arnold) is considered to be fatherless. He thinks
that his father was killed during the first world war. His
mother, Mrs. Helen Aronson (played by Janet Paskewitch) is
hiding a secret from him that his father is very much alive.
Arnold's father was wounded during the first world war, and
he is being kept in a "house for the insane" in London.
Despite the opposition of their parents, Alice and Arnold
decide to get married. However, during the wedding ceremony
celebration, to catch you up, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and
that America is at war.
After the wedding Alice's mother finds
out the secret, that Arnold's father lives. She wants her
daughter to get a divorce from the young musician. Alice
keeps the faith with her husband. He goes away and enlists
in the army. He is sent away to the Pacific front. The
transport ship on which he and his friends are traveling on
is sunk by a Japanese submarine. The young musician loses
his memory. He is sent to a hospital. His young wife, his
mother and friends come to visit him, but he doesn't
recognize them. The young Alice is in great despair. She
tries to have the musician recall their love. He remembers
nothing. After a time Alice gets a revelation that her
husband was burned to death during a fire in the hospital.
Her parents send her to distant relatives on a farm,
somewhere in Wisconsin, hoping that she would forget her
misfortune. However, on the farm she finds her husband. It
was discovered that he had successfully fled from the
hospital during a fire, and he came to the farm. The
farmer's daughter remained with him and she married him.
Alice is in despair. She doesn't know who her husband is,
and her husband doesn't even recognize her.
Several soldiers, her husband's
friends, fall upon a plan: when he was paralyzed the memory
of his ship dropped within him, and they decided that they
would throw him into the water, so that he should drink it,
and this would perhaps, in this way, give him back his
memory. The plan works. Arnold remembers where he is, knows
his wife and returns to her.
The review continues, in part (with
That was the plot with the main
characters of the play, but there were others.... such as in
a scene when the old Itche Shadkhan (Itche the Matchmaker,
played by Eli Mintz, to Arnold's grandmother Sarah, played
up till now by Henrietta Jacobson, but now by Celia Boodkin).
Eli Mintz is a fine comic, and his performance brought out a
lot of laughter. When only he appeared on the stage and took
to searching out a plan, he said, "Leave it to Itche," and
the audience cried out to him, "Leave it to Itche!" And thus
these words raced like a wildfire across the entirety of
The cast of this play included (in
Isaac Arco, Paul (Pesach'ke) Burstein, Fyvush Finkel, Flora
Freiman, Henrietta Jacobson, Harry Landman, Lillian Lux, Eli
Mintz, Jeanette Paskewitch, Max Rosenblatt, Saltsche Schorr,
Meyer Steinwurtzel, Anna Toback and Simon Wolf. Later Celia
Boodkin replaced Henrietta Jacobson in her part.
The play was written by Louie Freiman (Flora Freiman's
father), the music by Ilya Trilling, the lyrics by Louis
Markowitz. The dances were arranged by Henrietta Jacobson.
Pesach'ke Burstein staged the production.
"Who is Guilty?" played in at least
three theatres during this season (in 1944-45):
Hopkinson Theatre, Brooklyn, NY: from
September 27th until June 14, 1945;
Tremont Theatre, Bronx, NY: from January 19th until February
it went "on the road," including a stop at the Lincoln
Yiddish Theatre in Philadelphia, PA on April 4, 1945;
Brighton Theatre, Brooklyn, NY: from April 13 until ?
PERSONNEL OF "WHO IS GUILTY?"
All of the troupe is
not identified above. In the back row, third from the left
is Harry Landman, then Fyvush Finkel, Louis Markowitz, the
play's lyricist, sixth is Isaac
Arco, theatre manager Oscar Green, Julius Adler. The last
man on the right is unknown. Seated: third from
the left is Lillian Lux, and to her left is Eli
Mintz; seated at the table with script in hand is playwright
Louis Freiman, to his writer is the composer Ilya Trilling, and to his left is Pesach'ke Burstein. then
Henrietta Jacobson. Flora Freiman is seated third from the
right. Perhaps it is Saltsche Schorr to Flora's left, then
perhaps it is Anna Toback at the far right of the picture,
FYVUSH FINKEL (LT.) AND
from "Who is Guilty?"
opened September 27, 1944
at the Hopkinson Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
LILLIAN LUX AND
from "Who is Guilty?"