ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
Dr Hyman (Stanley Townsend) like the Gellburgs, Jewish, is consulted. Sylvia Gellburg is profoundly affected by the news coming out of Germany about the terrible persecution of the German Jews and of Kristallnacht or The Night of the Broken Glass, in particular, from which Miller’s play gets its title. Or so it seems.
Sylvia’s hysterical paralysis in reaction to the harrowing tales from Germany may not be so far from home when we learn that Phillip Gellburg is the only Jew working for an American Bank in the lending department where his job is to foreclose on mortgages. Gellburg claims to be Norwegian, denying his name is Goldberg and seems to repressing his Jewishness. However Dr Hyman also uncovers dysfunction in the physical side of the Gellburgs’ twenty year old marriage and finds himself attracted to the beautiful Sylvia. Although Dr Hyman is not a psychiatrist, he believes that Sylvia’s paralysis may have a psychological cause.
The deep nasal Brooklyn accents are not easy for the British cast but the performances are outstanding. Sher is the tightly controlled husband in denial about his Jewishness and his erectile dysfunction contrasting with Stanley Townsend’s confidant, attractive, womanising and stage commanding American doctor.
Sher’s character is not an endearing one but despite the denials, maybe they are self denials, there is a scene where Sher opens up and is deeply affecting. Tara Fitzgerald as the long suffering wife spends most of the play alone in the large marital bed because of her inability to walk. Caroline Loncq is Margaret, Dr Hyman’s secretary and concerned wife. In between the scenes Laura Moody plays loud and discordant notes on the cello, painful to listen to and reflecting the disharmony in the Gellburgs’ marriage.
Mike Britton’s set has to the side painted walls with the green paint seriously peeling off revealing the bare plaster beneath, symbolic of the surface beneath in this play. This is not one of Miller’s best plays but there are still flashes of his great writing in the wit. The ending is sad but not predictable.
For more about Arthur Miller and links to plays reviewed at Curtainup, see ourMiller Backgrounder
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.