“This astonishing theatre’s latest discovery is a Yiddish classic by David Pinski, dating from 1906... imagine Fiddler on the Roof with a sharp satirical bite and you get the picture... As a satire on the corrupting power of money, the play harks back to Jonson’s Volpone and anticipates Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit while offering a scathing portrait of the false piety of rural Russia’s isolated communities...Olivia Bernstone also invests the free-spending Tille with an expressive, extravagantly-costumed gaiety that suggests wealth, like beauty, exists in the eye of the beholder.” –Guardian
“There's plenty to treasure in this...As elemental greed and religion collide, it's clear that the Finborough has dug up a fascinating play.” –Time Out
‘Oh, it’s a funny sensation, having money in your pocket, I can tell you… Money warms you. If you knew how warm and safe I feel. Like a new creature in a new skin.’
In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, a unique opportunity to see a classic of Yiddish theatre for the first time in the UK – Treasure by David Pinski. Tille is the poor gravedigger’s daughter, with nothing in the world except a head full of dreams. Things look set to stay that way, until the day her brother returns from the graveyard with a pile of gold coins, and Tille is faced with a choice. She can hand in the money and go back to a life of drudgery, or she can use it to turn the world upside down.
As the village community disintegrates into chaos and descends on the cemetery in search of gold, Tille and her family must use all their wits to stay one step ahead of those who want their share of the treasure. A timeless fable that digs down into the depths of our folly and greed and, in the midst of the chaos, celebrates one woman’s ingenuity.
Treasure, or Der Oytser, is a comic masterpiece of Yiddish theatre. Written in 1906 and first performed in 1912, it remained popular in the Yiddish repertoire until the 1940s: most notably, Max Reinhardt’s production in Germany in 1919, an English-language version on Broadway in 1920, as well as a production staged in the Vilna Ghetto in 1943.
Colin Chambers is Emeritus Professor of Drama at Kingston University. Colin was Literary Manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1981 to 1997, and has also been a journalist and theatre critic. He is co-author with Richard Nelson of Kenneth’s First Play and Tynan (both Royal Shakespeare Company), and he selected and edited for performance Three Farces by John Maddison Morton, which were produced at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. As well as editing the Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre, Colin has written extensively on the theatre including Other Spaces: New Writing and the RSC, Playwrights’ Progress (with Michael Prior), The Story of Unity Theatre, Peggy: The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent (winner of the inaugural Theatre Book Prize),Inside the Royal Shakespeare Company, Here We Stand: Politics, Performers and Performance – Paul Robeson, Isadora Duncan and Charlie Chaplin and Black and Asian Theatre in Britain: A History.