CTG Offers a Rare and Wounding Arthur Miller Play with “Broken Glass”

Classic Theater Guild is producing a rarely done Arthur Miller play “Broken Glass” and should be congratulated and supported for offering a thoughtful, cogent telling of such a persuasively relevant play by one of the greatest American playwrights.

It’s 1938 in Brooklyn and Sylvia Gellburg (a pitiable Lisa Pfeiffer) can no longer walk due to her reactions to the news from abroad, specifically, the Nazis rise to power and Kristallnacht in November, the “Night of Broken Glass,” when there was a targeted attack on Jews and their businesses and homes. Her husband Phillip (solid David DeSorbo) seeks help from Dr. Harry Hyman (a hale Joseph Bruton) and a tangled story of anti-semitism, self-hatred and recriminations stretch out in front of us.

Photo by Laura Griffin

At the heart of the story is the crisis of stasis. What happens to us when we witness evil and are powerless to change it?

On one of the most attractive sets that Classic Theater Guild has constructed (Steve Suriano and Bill Wilday who are credited with construction…but it still needs a crossover), first-time director to the group Stephen Sanborn does an admirable job hitting all the notes in the story. DeSorbo, in the plays largest role, listens intently and is very reliable to keep the pace going if he sometimes becomes too strident. Fred Sirois as his white-shoe firm boss matches him and the result is injurious. The scenes between Pfeiffer and DeSorbo and her and Bruton do a great job delineating her mental and emotional state and the actress has fun with the two men. The two actors rounding out the cast come off quite well indeed. Rita Machin as Dr. Hyman’s wife is a vision of glamor but can be as tough-talking as the borough she calls home. Sorelle Leslie Brauth does lovely work as Harriet. She’s very relaxed onstage, makes interesting choices, and is a most welcome presence in the midst of all the tsuris.

Arthur Miller was never known for his brevity and CTG and director Sanborn have exacerbated the length unnecessarily and quite beautifully. The scene changes are taken slowly and there has been lovely cello music composed by William Bolcom that’s sensitively played with great feeling by Laura Melnicoff.

Arthur Miller’s genius is glimpsed frequently in this anguished diagnosis of a marriage through the bruising scene work and the occasional line that grabs the brass ring. “I took better care of my shoes.”

CTG’s “Broken Glass” is a fine presentation of this rarely seen play and it could not speak with more eloquence to our own paralyzed times. Who has not felt powerless on a daily basis to the negative forces swirling around us? The closing moment nearly moved me to tears. Well done all.

Through 1/30, Classic Theater Guild @ Congregation Beth Israel

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