by Eric JamesDaily Cougar Staff
In the grand tradition of Arthur Miller plays, Broken Glass is a provocative portrait of suffering and the exploration of morality.
Set in the wake of the Holocaust, Stages Repertory Theatre's production revolves around Sylvia Gellburg (Christianne Mays). Sylvia is suffering an unexplainable paralysis that her doctor seems to believe holds origins within her psyche.
Dr. Hyman (Thomas Baird) takes a special interest in Sylvia's case, perhaps because it intrigues him so much, or perhaps because Sylvia is so beautiful. His wife, Margaret (Barbara Lasater), hints toward the latter, and the physical attraction becomes apparent.
Adding to the tension of the play is Sylvia's anal-retentive husband, Phillip (John Arp). Phillip is always dressed in black and has an ever-present sour-puss look on his face.
Phillip seems to denounce the behavior of most Jewish people and is obsessed with people pronouncing his name "Gellburg" not "Geldberg." He is Jewish himself, yet anti-Semitism seems to flow strongly through his veins.
Phillip's two-faced relationship with the Jewish people and his own Jewish background seem to be the root of Sylvia's paralysis. This is coupled with the photos and stories Sylvia reads in the papers about the inhumanities against the Jews by the Nazis in Europe.
The play's strength comes through its explication of Phillip's self-loathing. Arp is phenomenal in the role and gives the play's best performance. He is a pathetic, unlikable character who is set in his beliefs and will not waver.
Lasater also gives a standout performance as Margaret, the torn Mrs. Hyman. She brightens up the stage with her smile, and her presence in the play could have been pleasantly larger.
Baird delivers a fine performance, yet it sometimes wavers in its portrayal. He is supposed to be a lady's man, yet his performance portrays him as a schmuck.
Mays makes an impressive turn as Sylvia and makes her suffering believable and not pathetic. Her Sylvia is strong despite it all, and she is interesting enough for us to care.
The other two characters are Harriet (Jennifer Doctorovich), Sylvia's sister, and Mr. Case (Stuart Purdy), Phillip's boss. Doctorovich's performance tends to be of the trying-too-hard kind. She wants to be "too Jewish," and it becomes more of a caricature than a human being.
All in all, however, it is a fine production under the able direction of Beth Sanford. The fear and moral questions of the Holocaust are brilliantly analyzed in the words of Miller. He poses the question of what role Jewish-Americans should play in the states, as well as how they should react to the atrocities happening across the Atlantic.
Miller creates a beautiful and often haunting canvas of characters and paints a vivid picture of the questions and fears facing the Jews during World War II.
Broken Glass plays at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. Tickets are $15 to $18. Call 52-STAGE for more information.