Jeffrey Sweet’s play “The Value of Names” pits an informer against his victim when Leo Gershen, who named names, comes to visit Benny Silverman thirty years later to ask his forgiveness. Sweet does not offer a solution but evokes the era to raise disturbing questions. Is it necessary for the victim to forgive his accuser in order to put the painful history behind him and move on? The play’s characters are a reflection of past and present. Benny’s daughter Norma plans to act in a play Leo Gershen will direct. By setting the daughter’s needs beside her father’s Sweet allows us to see the McCarthy period through a personal, contemporary lens.
|Keywords:||Contemporary American Drama, Hollywood Blacklisting, Communist Paranoia in America in the 1950’s, Ethical Dimensions of Victimhood|
Professor, English Department, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
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