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                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  THE FINAL BALANCE


"The Final Balance"

(Der letster sakhakl)

A tragicomedy in Four Acts


At the Unser Theatre

Beginning on January 29, 1925.

Directed by Egon Brecher

Settings and Costumes by Boris Aronson

(in order of their appearance)



Freda Vitalin


Jacob Bleifer

The Wife of The Four Merchant

Bella Bellarina

Flour Merchant*

David Vardi


Joseph Greenberg

Roomer's Wife*

Eva Joalit

Money Lender

Avigdor Pecker

First Agent

Gershon Gordin

Second Agent

Morris Friedenberg

Third Agent

Oscar Polonowsky

The Reverend

Jacob Tarlo

The Mayor

Wolf Eisenberg

The Cousin

Luba Reamer

The Water Carrier

Isaac Rotblum


Mob: Oscar Polonowsky, Isaac Rotblum, Shymen, Gershon Gordin, Jehiel Lowenstein, Osher Schreiber, Asher Freedman, Moses Freed, Leib Freilich, Jacob Tarlo, Wolf Eisenberg, Luba Reamer, Sarah Silberberg, Golde Rosler.

Action takes place in time and place of a tale.

ACT 1. -- Dining Room in the Flour Merchant's House.

ACT 2. -- The Same.

ACT 3. -- The Same.

ACT 4. -- A Street.

*Egon Brecher and Esther Mendel alternating in the parts of The Merchant and The Roomer's Wife, respectively.


Unser Theatre was located at 2135 Boston Road in the Bronx, New York.
Board of Directors:

David Pinski, Chairman
Max Cottin, Treasurer
Mendel Elkin
Dr. H.J. Epstein
Peretz Hirshbein
H. Leivick
S. Stavrov
Chaim Schneyer

Business Manager: Hirsh Ehrenreich.



An old woman tells of the timeless struggle for power and gold, and the havoc it works. She deplores the fact that to gain gold and power, human beings will stop at nothing -- they will hurt, ruin, and destroy one another, even their own kin -- and forget their souls in their mad pursuit. But she warns all who would join in the pursuit; when the conquerors have stopped at last to make a reckoning, the final balance does not tally; despite their profits and acquisitions they are losers. She tells the tale that follows, to hear out her words.

ACT 1.

Noon. The flour merchant is still in bed. His Wife sends for him, then comes up herself. Ignoring her scolding for his late sleeping, he asks if she can explain dreams. His dead mother visited him in a dream. But his Wife will not listen to it. The Roomer enters, the Merchant stops him to ask if he can interpret dreams. The Roomer passes to his room. The Merchant thinking of how the young couple are now kissing in the next room, asks his Wife whether they have ever done the same. The Wife exists in a rage, he calling after her to send up a loaf of freshly baked bread. The Merchant would like to peep through the keyhole, but the young couple come out. When her husband has gone, the Merchant starts a conversation with the Roomer's Wife and leads up to his dream, but the Money Lender interrupts.

He has come to collect a loan, but the Merchant asks for a new larger loan. The new enterprise consists in buying up all the flour of last year's growth. he is sure that the Money Lender will want to be a partner, but doesn not tell why he is going into this. It is connected with his dream, and he wants first to find out whether the dream was true. The Money Lender ridicules him but signs the contract. When the Merchant is about to tell his dream, Laborer enters with a loaf of freshly baked bread. When assured that it is of new flour, he gives the Laborer a piece ot eat. Aft4er a few bites the latter becomes insane and speaks about bigger wages and shorter hours. When the Merchant gives him a piece of bread of the old flour, the Laborer becomes normal after a few bites.

This was the Merchant's dream, all who will eat bread from the flour of the new harvest will become insane, to be cured only by the flour of last year's harvest. Money Lender asks if Merchant has told anyone of the dream. Merchant reassures him, saying he only wanted to speak of it to allay his pangs of conscience, but all these are past now.


The Merchant, who is confined to his room on account of a sore foot impatiently meets his Wife who brings the news that an epidemic of insanity is spreading through the town. She asks the purpose of buying up last year's flour. He refuses to tell. When she leaves he calls the Roomer's wife and informs her that he has the cure for the epidemic now raging. She leaves as soon as he attempts to make advances.

Laborer enters with a report that more flour has arrived, but there is no storage room. Merchant orders him to bring it up to his rooms. When Roomer enters, Merchant asks him if he was ever bad. Roomer hardly understands the question.

Money Lender comes to report that all of last year's flour has been secured. Merchant asks him to bring up the agents. Roomer's Wife returns after escorting her husband. Merchant stops her to warn her against letting her husband to go out among the stricken people. Money Lender brings in Agents who receive orders to spread the news that the Merchant's flour is the cure for the illness. Money Lender is ordered to close the stores. He understands and goes. Merchant tries to explain to Roomer's Wife that he is not a swindler, but she refuses to listen. Merchant's Wife comes in angered at the closing of the stories. But hearing the purpose, she realizes the profits awaiting them, and with the Money Lender starts to plan for high prices.

As a result of the Agents' work, crowds rush in asking for flour, ready to pay any price. Money Lender and Wife go with the crowd to open the stores. Merchant rejoices and explains to Roomer's Wife that he is no worse than a physician who charges exorbitant fees.


The old flour is all gone, but the crowd demands more. They don't believe the Merchant's assurances that the curative flour is sold out, and the flour left in the stores is of the new harvest. When they become threatening, he delivers the keys of the stores to them. His Wife and Money Lender reproach him for surrendering the flour, for it could have been sold as curative flour at high prices. Disgusted at this, Merchant shows them that now the whole town will go insane, and they will be sole possessors of everything. They sit down to dinner. Merchant prepares bread of new flour for them. Wife and Money Lender become insane, the latter rejoicing in the feeling of possession. Merchant, who suspets that the two are in love with one another, drives them out and offers his loving heart to Roomer's Wife. She repulses him in her great love for her husband. Merchant asks in despair why such love was not granted him.


A Street. The Merchant meets the Laborer who speaks of strikes to him and calls him the most miserable of men because those who worked for him and ate his bread despised him. Merchant turns to his Wife with reproaches for their married life, a life of quarreling. But she merely says, "Yes, Yes," while Money Lender repeats, "Mine, Mine."

He meets others. The Clergyman repeats the last words of Merchant's sentences. The town Mayor tells his secrets. The Cousin is in her best attire, in search of a husband. The Water Carrier does not put the stopper in the barrel because he considers the taking out of a stopper its main purpose. Merchant is in despair about his future in a mad world.

Roomer's Wife appeals for help in her husband's sudden illness. Merchant demands her as the price for the cure. In her despair she promises herself to him. He wants her love, but this she can never give him. When she becomes hysterical he gives her the cure -- the last piece of health-restoring bread.

But without her love he finds life useless among all the insane, and goes off to fetch the rope.



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