The Arty Semite

Nursing Home Drama Leaves Questions Unanswered

By Curt Schleier

  • Print
  • Share Share
Ronald L. Glassman

“Every Day a Visitor” is a play about seniors living — no, make that confined — in a faded Bronx nursing home. They have no family, friends or, very soon, an audience nearby.

Based on a short story by playwright Richard Abrons and presented off-Broadway a dozen years ago, the play tells the story of seven residents in a home that, as one resident describes it, “is not how I pictured ending up.”

The home has seen better days, when it was filled with people. Now it’s just these seven residents subsisting on a meagre diet and few activities.

An attendant suggests that the seven can improve their spirits and empower themselves by assuming the persona of famous individuals. So soon we have a would-be LaGuardia, Bella Abzug, and Kissinger strutting around the stage. Moreover, the most withdrawn and ill of them assumes the role of president.

His first edict is that if one is hospitalized, someone from the group would visit him or her every day. For some reason, their play-acting energizes the group, and even makes them nicer to each other — though why this happens is never clear.

The play leaves other questions unaswered as well. To start with, why is the facility so run down? It had glory days as a Jewish home — what happened? Why is there never enough good food? Are the residents charity cases? Who are the residents and how did they wind up here? We never get to know them, so they wind up more caricatures than characters: an argumentative former garment industry exec here, a liberal former union organizer there.

Abrons provides little fodder for the actors to work with, so they substitute volume for emotion. What passes for humor is someone spitting his rice out during a dinner conversation.

If we’re lucky, we’ll all get old. But how we age can be worrisome. But despite a potentially meaty and universal subject, “Every Day a Visitor” never fulfills its promise.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Theater, Richard Abrons, Every Day a Visitor

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.