Page 52 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

Basic HTML Version

4 6
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
loneliness of the old, with an attempt to dramatize
Centre 42’s
reforming philosophy.
There is no denying Wesker’s extraordinary talent, especial­
ly for naturalistic dialogue and creating warm, living characters.
In a simple poetic style he can also humanize social and political
problems. Once he seeks to proselytize, his work fails.
Kops is a somewhat anarchistic personality, the product of
the hungry thirties, a street hawker, dock worker and dish washer
before he settled to full time writing. His first play
The Hamlet
of Stepney Green
displayed a curious eclecticism; Shakespearean
theme, Brechtian illusion and Yiddish whimsy proved an odd
mixture. As judged by Mr. Milton Shulman, the witty critic of
The Evening Standard,
“The dialogue is of the variety best
spoken with hand clapped to the cheek and head violently
rocked from side to side . . . the expression ‘oi, oi, oi’ plays an
unusually large p a r t . . . ” Yet Kops expressed his own vision
based on comic fantasy, not one of social comment or reform.
He has never achieved Wesker’s acclaim but he has continued
to produce new plays, performed at provincial theatres or on
television, and a successful autobiography published in 1963.
Kops’ latest play, not yet given a professional production in
London,
The Return of Solly Green,
to be produced on Broad­
way, marks a great advance. A simple, funny, picaresque tale
with its roots in Ben Johnson, Beaumarchais and Sholem Alei-
chem, it reads with sustained fluency.
Harold Pinter has not only achieved the greatest success of
this trio, he has also effectively assimilated his Jewish working
class origins into a style of extreme individuality. Pirandello,
Chekhov, the East-European Yiddishists, German expressionists,
French experimentalists, can be quoted as possible sources. I t is
certain that his influences could not have been English. His
view of character and human relations and his ear for language
bear the stamp of the outsider. He reminds me of Vladimir
Nabokov.
Jewish Wri ter as “Hot tentotologist”
Pinter must be regarded as a poet. For me he epitomizes the
Jewish writer both as “Hottentotologist” and expressive of a
specific temperament. In his plays he seems to be standing back
from the human scene, noting with almost scientific detachment
the isolation of human existence, the odd life which words,
made by man, take on, the strange fears which normal people,
or normal objects, create when unusually arranged.
The Birthday Party,
his first play to reach the London stage,
so mystified the public that it was removed within a few days.