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Broken Glass

Arthur Miller
Watford Palace Theatre
Watford Palace Theatre

Amy Marston Credit: Richard Lakos
Andrew Hall & Michael Matus Credit: Richard Lakos
Andrew Hall as Stanton Case & Michael Matus as Philip Credit: Richard Lakos

Kristallnacht 1938 was a shock.

How could the country of Beethoven, Schiller and Marx do such terrible things to Jewish people?

Homes and synagogues are destroyed. Perhaps hundreds of people are killed. Thousands are herded into concentration camps. It is the beginning of the Nazi Holocaust.

In America, the Jewish character Sylvia Gellburg (Amy Marston) in Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass is stunned by the events and suddenly afflicted with paralysis.

She speaks about an image she has seen of old men being bullied into cleaning the German streets with toothbrushes.

She knows being Jewish can be difficult even in America. Her husband Phillip (Michael Matus) thinks he dodges the problem of prejudice by expressing very right-wing political views and making himself useful to the rich.

That stance frightens Sylvia who has a dream that he is part of a crowd who climbs on top of her and is the one who “starts to cut off my breasts... I think it's Philip... He doesn’t like Jews.”

This riveting, confident production is set on a revolving stage split by a tall, tinted, narrow glass case in which sits the fine cellist Susie Blankfield who, when the lighting changes, we can see as she briefly plays between scenes.

Amy Marston substituted for Charlotte Emerson with barely enough time for most actors to learn the lines, but she gives a strong performance that in gesture, tone of voice and passionate delivery could hardly be better.

Michael Matus is memorable as a man desperately torn between insecurity and determination to survive in a hostile world. He is a Philip physically tense, never comfortable in his own body and seemingly on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Sylvia’s paralysis was also that of America as the Nazi regime continued its atrocities. Her crisis is a premonition of the horror to come.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna