By Arthur Miller
Directed by Michael Colucci
& Jan Ellen Graves
At Redtwist Theatre, Chicago
Powerful performances propel Miller’s last great play
As they did in 2001 and 2004, Redtwist Theatre mounts a fine production of Arthur Miller’s (1915-2005) 1995 drama, Broken Glass. Written when Miller was nearly 80, Broken Glass deals with an identity crisis by a middle aged Jewish couple that turns into a mystery. Why is Sylvia Gellburg (Jacqueline Grandt) paralyzed from the waste down when medically she seems fine? Why does Phillip Gellburg (Neal Grofman) come off as attacking, argumentative and self-loathing? What does the horrible news of Kristallnacht in Berlin in November of 1938 so upset Sylvia that she seems obsessed with fear that the attacks on Jews could come to her Brooklyn neighborhood?
When Dr. Harry Hyman (Michael Colucci), a neighborhood general practitioner, is asked to help ‘cure’ Sylvia, he becomes a tad too involved with Sylvia, or so Phillip thinks. This mystery drama is layered with nicely woven plot lines involving sexual impotency, years of guilt, and loads of fear. Phillip’s self-loathing at being a Jew and his guilt for not allowing Sylvia to have a working career ruins any intimacy between the couple after the birth of their only child. When Sylvia’s ailment happens, Dr, Hyman investigates: Is it fear of Phillip or fear of repression toward Jews that fuels her paralyzes?
The mystery unfolds revealing the complications of a loveless marriage and repression can take its toll on both the repressed and the repressor. Arthur Miller dramatized how fear, lack of love, and self-hatred can , over time, destroy a family. This is the last terrific work Miller penned. It unfolds through several riveting performances. Michael Colucci is the warm, steady, understanding doctor while Jacqueline Grandt is believable as the psychosomatic paralyzed wife. But the performance that jumps out as mesmerizing is Neal Grofman’s powerful, emotionally wrenching take on the repressed Phillip. Grofman is outstanding here. The production moves along building the suspense as we try to guess the causes and consequences of both Sylvia’s ailment and Phillip’s rage. The Redtwist Theatre production is first-class theatre. Don’t miss it.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 14, 2012
For more info checkout the Broken Glass page at theatreinchicago.com
At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-728-7529, www.redtwist.org, Thursdays thry Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through November 18, 2012