Watermill - Broken Glass
6th to 30th April 2005.
There is a review by Reviews Gate here ("a strong company bring it off well... Jenny Quayles immobile Sylvia is an excellent performance... a fine actress giving one of her best performances... David Fielders excellent work throughout... a powerful evening").
There is a BBC Radio Berkshire review here ("Phillip was played with great skill and credibility by David Fielder... a bouquet too for Jenny Quayle's Sylvia - a complex, anxious and loving portrayal... I am coming increasingly to the view that American accents should never be attempted by British actors").
Without warning Mrs. Gellburg loses the use of her legs. Her husband is
distraught. Her doctor can find no organic cause but, this being 1930s
Brooklyn and he being Heidelberg trained, he embarks on a sort of a talking
cure. And so begins an ebb and flow about the mistreatment of Jews in
Germany, about the place of immigrants in America and about marital
From Kick FM.
Arthur Millers play Broken Glass is on at the Watermill. Its about the relationships between two couples in 1930s America, seen from a Jewish perspective at a time when the anti-Jewish atrocities were starting to take place in Germany. Its a cleverly constructed play, with outstanding performances from the three main actors, and itll make you think about your own relationship with your partner! I can strongly recommend this play, but youll have to be quick; this is its final week.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
Broken Glass, at The Watermill, until April 30
Arthur Miller was America's foremost post-war playwright. His works, intricate musings on the darkness at the heart of the American Dream, struck a chord with a whole generation of theatregoers with plays such as Death of A Salesman.
Broken Glass is a later work, first performed in New York in 1994. Its current appearance at The Watermill acknowledges both the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the recent death of 89-year-old Miller.
Set in 1938, a Brooklyn couple, stressed husband Phillip Gellburg and restless wife Sylvia, are forced to deal with her sudden inability to walk.
According to Dr Hyman, this affliction could exist for many distinct reasons. Is it the demise of the couple's bitter marriage or her feverish obsession with Germany's 'Kristallnacht', that is 'night of broken glass' and its associated atrocities?
It's a plot designed as both psychological tease and whodunit, as aspiring Freudian Hyman attempts to establish the roots of the elusive illness.
Director Andy Brereton, for whom it is his second Watermill production, believes that the play is ultimately about our desperate need to communicate with each other.
Themes of isolation and alienation are certainly apparent and although they focus on the Jewish American experience have a contemporary resonance.
David Fielder projects Gellburg as a man uneasy with himself and his ' Jewishness' that he has lost all communication with both the world and his crippled tormented wife, played heroically by Jenny Quayle.
On the other hand, Fielder's range of emotion is sadly lacking in Patrick Poletti's Doctor and ex-playboy Hyman. But to be fair, maybe the doctor's lightweight cosmopolitan style was meant to be seductive, as clearly his concerns for Sylvia seem more than medical curiosity.
Gary McCann's set and Chris Scott's lighting are excellent and made the best use of the Watermill space, as light flooded throughout the lucent back pane, throwing shadows to remind that beyond the closed minds and doors stood a vibrant Brooklyn.
Against this backdrop the entire cast are faithful to the narrative. However I felt uneasy with the English cast attempting 'Nu York' accents and despite dialect coach Richard Tyrrell's best efforts the cast often slipped into parody.
Nonetheless such a small quibble will certainly not distract the legions of Miller enthusiasts who will certainly not be disappointed by The Watermill's production.