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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Apr 17, 2005 - 08:58 PM Archive
BROKEN GLASS Arthur Miller
Watermill West Berkshire Playhouse until 30th April
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one interval
Review: Stewart McGill, 17 April 2005

A rare chance to see this play and a timely reminder of Miller's powerful voice.
The great thing about seeing Arthur Miller's Broken Glass is, indeed, seeing Arthur Miller's Broken Glass! With so many theatres offering a diet of Crucible, Salesman and the odd View From A Bridge, it is rare to see later Miller and discover how questioning and analytical his creative mind was in his final works.

Broken Glass does appear to be a reaction to and response to the situation in Yugoslavia in the early 1990's though distanced by its rooting in the beginnings of Nazi atrocities in Germany in the 30's and the degeneration of humanity through the evils of Hitlerism. Certainly the theme is strongly placed in Andy Bereton's production but I felt the play was, perhaps more, an analysis of marital breakdown, guilt and loss of the expression of love between two Jews in Brooklyn, Phillip Gellburg (David Fiedler) and Sylvia Gellburg (Jenny Quayle).

The play moves from a darkly comic opening to a ferociously powerful ending and on the whole this is a successful evening of chamber theatre. The intimate auditorium of The Watermill enables the audience to focus entirely on the relationships laid bare before us. Nothing escapes the eye and a strong company bring it off well. There are a few moments of slight staged' awareness and despite David Fielder's excellent work throughout, perhaps, the tears beautifully handled in Act One were overdone by closure. I guess that's a little point but in such an intimate arena cannot go unnoticed.

Jenny Quayle's immobile Sylvia is an excellent performance and her painful life starved of real love and heartbroken by events in Germany cries out for help. A fine actress giving one of her best performances. Patrick Poletti's caring Doctor Harry Hyman alongside Nina Lucking, Úna McNulty and Phillip Anthony complete a strong cast. Yet one feels eventually that the work belongs to Fielder and Quayle. The racial guilt is a core element of the play and a strong editorial in the programme places this in context but I will remember Broken Glass more as an analysis of a failed marriage and the desperate results when love is missing.

I recommend seeing the show over yet another Crucible' to remind us what a powerful voice Miller remains on the contemporary stage. Gary McCann's set and Chris Scott's lighting with effective use of projections alongside Janice Armour's soundscore complete a powerful evening.

Cast: Phillip Anthony: Stanton Case, David Fielder: Phillip Gellburg, Nina Lucking: Margaret Hyman, Úna McNulty: Harriet, Patrick Poletti: Dr Harry Hyman, Jenny Quayle: Sylvia Gellburg.

Creative Team: Directed by Andy Bereton, Designed by Gary McCann, Lighting designed by Chris Scott, Musical Supervisor: Janie Armour, Dialect Coach: Richard Tyrrell.
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