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  • gilwilson 10:08 PM on July 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , broken glass, David Dukes, , Jane Brucker, jews, , John Vickery, , , , Linda Purl, , , paralysis, ,   

    “Broken Glass” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Broken Glass”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Jane Brucker, David Dukes, Lawrence Pressman, Linda Purl, John Vickery and JoBeth Williams.
    Approx 2 hours

    This play marks a bittersweet moment for me, in that it is the last performance in “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works. Bitter, because it is the last one and sweet, because after listening to these ten plays I can pretty much consider myself a scholar of Arthur Miller.

    While getting my degree in Theatre, I had the opportunity to study Arthur Miller, but L.A. Theatre Works’ performances are all top-notch. These performances are produced for audio in such a way that puts the listener in the middle of the audience, aurally. While I know well that theatre is a visual art as well, the words make the difference and when they are performed so well the visuals are just icing on the cake. L.A. Theatre Works productions are all icing and cake with great acting, subtle, yet effective, sound effects and great music that fit the settings of the plays.

    “Broken Glass” is set in 1938, and this psychological mystery begins when Sylvia Gellburg suddenly loses her ability to walk. Her husband is worried about the woman he adores and seeks help from the neighborhood doctor. After consulting with another doctor, Dr. Hyman cannot find any physical reason for her paralysis. The only clue lies in Sylvia’s obsession with news accounts from Germany where old men are being forced to clean the sidewalks with toothbrushes. Though she is safe in Brooklyn, Sylvia is terrified by Nazi violence, or is it something closer to home? It is up to Dr. Hyman to find the solution.

    Mr. Gellburg, in a way, also becomes the patient of Dr. Hyman as Mrs. Gellburg’s diagnosis is revealed to be hysterical paralysis. Mr. Gellberg is appalled at the idea that it is all in her head.

    Dr. Hyman learns that Mr. Gellburg goes out of his way at times to deny he is a Jew and other times to use being a Jew in his favor. This has created a fear in Mrs. Gellburg that is comes out even more as she reads newspaper stories or hears radio reports about the torture of the Jews. What it all comes down to is that the choices made whether you accept what is given or you make a stand for what you believe is the turning point in life and what you do determines who you are.

    A nice play and a very nice performance, that is well worth the time, money and effort to put into your listening list.

     
  • gilwilson 9:43 PM on June 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrew Hawkes, , , , Ben Diskin, , concentration camps, , , incident at vichy, , jews, Jon Matthews, , , , , , , Robert Lesser, Shahar Sorek, socialism, ,   

    “Incident at Vichy” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Incident at Vichy”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works
    starring: Ben Diskin, Arye Gross, Jamie Hanes, Andrew Hawkes, Gregory Itzin, Robert Lesser, Jon Matthews, Lawrence Pressman, Raphael Sbarge, Armin Shimerman and Shahar Sorek.
    70 minutes

    “Incident at Vichy” has got to be one of the most intense one-act plays ever. In just over one hour Arthur Miller manages to tell a story that begins with hope but ends with hopelessness. Knowing world history this is one of those plays that while the world knows the general outcome, of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, but this play explores the how. Looking back from our 21st century viewpoint it is really hard to see how Germany got by with what was done to the Jews and how they managed to gather all those listed as inferior and put them in Death Camps. This play demonstrates how human nature, guilt, fear, and enabled the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust with so little resistance.

    This one-act play takes place in a police station where a group of detainees are waiting for inspection by German officers. The detainees are all trying to deny the actual reason they were brought in (because the are suspected of being Jews) and try to tell themselves that it is a routine document check. But when some bring up that their noses were measured, and they all realize that most of them are Jews, then the fear of the real reason begins. Each one has story to tell and most of the stories are about escaping German occupied France to Vichy where they think they would be safe.

    At one point one of the detainees tells of rumors of the Death Camps and the furnaces. Some of the more able-bodied remaining detainees attempt an escape but it is thwarted by the French major who is an injured veteran of the German / French part of the war, and is now forced to assist the Germans. Each one is pulled into the interrogation room some leave to go back to work some are not seen again.

    The final scene in this play is when the last detainee is trying to convince the major to let him go and the discussion over whose life is more valuable begins.

    The play is an enlightening glimpse into the darker side of human nature and is by no means one that will lift your spirits, however,the cast in this performance are perfect in their character representations. Another great production from L.A. Theater Works.

     
  • gilwilson 3:04 AM on December 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: angel time, , anne rice, , , , , , hit men, jews, saints   

    “Angel Time” by Anne Rice 

    “Angel Time”
    by Anne Rice
    read by Paul Michael
    produced by Random House Audio
    Approx. 9 hours

    Anne Rice is best known for her vampire chronicles, including the most popular “Interview with the Vampire,” but any Anne Rice fan knows she’s written more than just tales of vampires.  She’s written about witches and mummies, as well.  Okay, all kidding aside, Anne Rice has written romance novels and even some stories about Jesus, so don’t be surprised to hear this latest novel is about angels.  Angels, hit men and Jews of the 13th century are the focus of this novel.  To be a little more forthcoming about the subject matter a hit man is “hired” by an angel of God to defend the Jews of Norwich, England.

    The story is told first person through the voice of Toby O’Dare, a hit man that is known as “Lucky the Fox” by his boss who Lucky calls “The Right Man.”  Lucky knows “The Right Man” just enough to know that he is favored and loved by him.  “The Right Man” insists that Lucky knows that he is working for the “good guys.”  Lucky doesn’t want to know who “the good guys” are.  A fascinating aspect of Toby/Lucky is that he is a expert lutist.

    The story is told first by Toby as he is to perform a “hit” on a Swiss Banker in the Mission Inn, in San Juan.  The Mission Inn is Toby’s sanctuary, where he goes to escape his hitman life.  So actually performing a hit in the sanctuary rattles the soul of this soulless man.  This first section of the book seems at first drawn out and, to be honest, boring at first, but once the story gets rolling this section starts to pay off and by the end of the book the listener is glad to have heard this section in full.  After Toby pulls off the hit, a stranger walks into the room where the murder was committed and begins to tell Toby an almost unreal story.  This person is an angel of God and was sent to recruit Toby for a redeeming mission.

    Before the mission can begin the angel tells the second part of the book.  In this section the listener learns all about Toby’s life and what led him to become a hit man.  From Toby’s dark past where growing up the son of alcoholic parents, he is forced to care for and raise his younger brother and sister, while at the same time learning to play the lute and excel at all scholarly tasks.  Toby’s father, a crooked police officer is sent to prison and knifed within three days of being sent up.  Toby’s mom devolves into a drunken, mostly incoherent, person that most of the time Toby buys her liquor just to shut her up.  When Toby comes home to find his brother and sister drowned in the bathtub and his mother bleeding from her wrists, he leaves everything behind, his scholarship to study music, his girlfriend, everything.  He goes to New York where an Italian restaurateur is impressed with his musical abilities and hires him to entertain in the restaurant.  Soon the Russian Mafia threatens to take the restaurant, the house of ill repute (also run by the Restaurant) and any other properties.  Before anyone dies Toby kills off all the Russian mafia involved and soon is recruited by “The Right Man.”

    Once this story is told by the angel, Toby realizes he is who he says he is, and asks why God would need him.  The angel only remarks that God forgives him.

    The mission now can be performed.  Traversing through “angel time” Toby and the angel are taken to 13th Century England.  There Toby becomes what he has most desired in life, a Dominican Friar.
    As the friar, Toby is to save the lives of the King’s Jewry in Norwich England.

    A Jewish mother’s daughter has disappeared after the young girl attended the Christmas Pageants at the encouragement of her Christian friends.  She then takes ill and disappears.  The Christians, seeking a Saint, like Little Saint William of Norwich, accuse the Jews of poisoning the girl and demand the Jews all be killed and the girls clothing be produced so all can be healed by the touch of the garments.  The actual story is that the girl died of a burst appendix and the truth would not be accepted by the Christians in search of another Saint killed by Jews.

    In an amazing story set in 13th Century England, Anne Rice proves again she’s more than just a vampire novelist.  This intriguing and thrilling story with many twists and turns is sure to appeal to any fiction lover.

    The reader of this audio book, Paul Michael does an excellent job of voice characterization, including the subtlest of accents in the characters to establish who is speaking at the moment. His low soft voice definitely kept my ear tuned-in to the story.

     
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