Tuesday January 23rd 2018

“Broken Glass”

Highly Recommended**** Redtwist Theatre, that little storefront on Bryn Mawr , is one of my favorites when it comes to utilizing a small space for bringing audiences exciting theater. Their current production, Arthur Miller’s “Broken Glass” is one that has a great deal of sentimental value to this troupe, as it was the first production in their first full season at  the Bryn Mawr location. They had previously done it at Victory Gardens back in 2001. This is one of the lesser known Miller plays and was first produced back in 1995, so it was one of his later works. The title represents “Kristallnacht” ( the night of the broken glass) that took place during November 9th and 10th of 1938 in Poland, and the story deals with this period of time, but in Brooklyn New York.

The Gellburgs, Phillip ( Neal Grofman) and Sylvia ( Jaqueline Grandt) are a married Jewish couple, that to all around them seem like an ordinary couple. By the way, both of these actors are the original players in the original production. It seems that they have a problem. In the opening scene,Phillip is meeting with Dr. Hyman  played by Michael Colucci, who also directs this production with Jan Ellen Graves ( Colucci directed the original as well as played this role) to find out what is wrong with Sylvia. It seems that her legs will not function despite nothing being wrong with her. Dr. Hyman explains that there is no physical reason for this  illness and that it may in fact be mental.

The story then goes on to analyze what may be the cause of this baffling illness and in the exploration, we learn a great deal about each of the individuals. What appears to be a normal family, is not all that we thing it is and each of the characters has some personal problems that are self contained, each not being able to share. Part of what starts the illness is what is going on in Germany, Sylvia feeling that her safety is unsure and Phillip, who almost tries to hide his Jewishness, feeling that it will be fine. Along the way we see that Phillip is proud of being Jewish only when it represents something special, but otherwise feels that the world around him is anti-semetic. Smoothly directed by Colucci and Graves, who have a firm grip on the play, on a wonderful set (Joe Schermoly makes great use of the tiny stage) this is two plus hours of pure Arthur Miller with a cast that conveys the story with honesty and feeling. Mike Nowak takes on the role of Phillip’s employer, Susan Fay as Dr. Hyman’s wife,Margaret and Robyn Okrant as Sylvia’s sister Harriet ( she is the comic character, but also reveals a great deal about her sister and brother-in-law as Dr. Hyman explores the cause of this illness.

I am not one to give away the ending os a well written story, so I will only tell you that this is about relationship, love and honesty. These could be real people, people that you may know with problems that are self contained. Identity crisis for Phillip, lack of affection and respect for Sylvia, and a Doctor who is in fact a womanizer, but it is his caring and concern that opens up Pandora’s Box for the Gellburg family. This is a very impressive production from start to finish.The lighting by Christopher Burpee adds to the effectiveness as does the sound and incidental music chosen to be used and the amazing props assembled by Jeff Shields along with the costuming by kClare Kemock all make this multi-scene play work on this small stage. The stagehands and actors keep the flow of scenes to a minimum of time and Ms Grandt never goes out of character. As the scenes change, if she exits, it is back to the wheel chair and off. This is not easy and she handles it flawlessly.

 I suggest that if you love Miller, you get over to see this sterling production, one that will make you think , as it is only running through November 18th ( just think, during the anniversary of the”Kristallnacht) with performances as follows:

Thursdays,Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 P.M.

Tickets range from $25-$30 which is a very reasonable cost for a show of this quality ( students and seniors save $5).

To order your tickets call 773-728-7529 or reserve@redtwist.org

There is street parking in the area ( some metered) and the Red Line is just a block away. Redtwist is located at 1044 West Bryn Mawr. If you have never seen a Redtwist production, you owe it to yourselves to see  what they do. They do white hot drama in a tiny black box with a little red twist.

visit their website at www.redtwist.org

To see what others have to say, go to my homepage and link to theatre in chicago.com, then go to review round-up and click on “Broken Glass”


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