Volume 93, Issue 30

Friday, October 22, 1999


Weekend Pass

Johnny Faourite amongst the young'uns

Cosmic crew living in the past

Clayton takes things personally

Western prof pens enticing play



Western prof pens enticing play

By Stephanie Truscott
Gazette Writer

So Tevye, Could You Use Another Daughter?, a one-act play involving three characters, is Western professor Monda Halpern's first writing endeavour, but you'd never be able to tell from the remarkable depth of sympathy and humour the work evokes.

The play's characters are complex beings, mentally encumbered by the menacing presence of the Holocaust which has played a pivotal role in the life of main characters David and his adult daughter Hannah. Halpern examines the relationship between David, who has survived the Holocaust and Hannah, who is facing anything which comes with being a Jewish woman in contemporary society.

Rarely has the theatre ever examined the children of Holocaust and how this tragedy has adversely affected their lives. The play offers a provocative insight into the mental and social problems caused by the Holocaust, in the present day life of three seemingly ordinary and successful people.

George Jolink gives a rousing performance as David, who inadvertently dredges up all the submerged neuroses he and his daughter have been concealing, when he announces his surprise engagement to a Gentile woman half his age.

The announcement is made prior to a dinner party Hannah (played convincingly by Julia Webb) has organized in celebration of her son's upcoming bar mitzvah. Before her two children and her father's fiancé arrive for dinner, Hannah and her father engage in a heated debate dealing with such important issues as gender, racial and cultural identity, tradition and the Jewish faith.

Even though the characters deal with heavy issues, the tone of the play never really sinks into despair. These issues are interspersed with a humour both sardonic and honest in its revelations. The serious moments are poignant and powerful in the sympathy they engage.

Due to the wonderful eye of first time set designer Evelyn Bielmann, the battleground on which these central characters spar is alluring and sophisticated. Everything from the furniture to the dinnerware on the table looks as if it came straight out of an Ethan Allen catalogue.

Although the actors appear stiff and mechanical when they first appear on stage, they eventually immerse themselves completely into their characters and succeed in making them believable and likable. By the end of the play they became so engaging it was sad to see them go. This is where the play's major flaw emerges – it's simply too short, leaving the audience craving a second act.

Aside from its brevity, So Tevye, Could You Use Another Daughter? gives an intriguing and highly entertaining character study, as well as looking into the still reverberating tragedies of the Holocaust.

So Tevye, Could You Use Another Daughter? will be playing at The Old Factory Theatre until tomorrow night.

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