In June 1942, a young, rather callow Eric Bentley is introduced to Bertolt Brecht, one of Germany's leading playwrights now exiled in Santa Monica, California. Brecht is looking for an English translator who will spread his fame in America, Bentley for a niche in the world of theatre as both a critic and director. Each man's ambitions nurture a curious relationship in which, without ever acknowledging their secret agendas, mutual exploitation becomes the order of the day. Grievances, criticism and acrimony firmly suppressed, the "silent partners" work closely on Brecht's plays and poetry, neither man revealing their true feelings or motives. However, in the play, through the inclusion of surreal, imaginary scenes, their true thoughts are clearly and bluntly expressed. After being summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Brecht, having been offered the directorship of the Berliner Ensemble, prepares to resettle in East Berlin and offers Bentley a cozy niche in his new venture. Bentley, disdaining Communism and now making headway in America as a critic and academic, declines the offer. After Brecht's cowardly refusal to align himself with the 1953 Workers Revolt in East Berlin and during a visit from Bentley to East Germany, the true nature between the two "friends" is caustically revealed in a scene during which the accumulation of fifteen years of suppressed emotions trigger a shattering denouement, one that reveals the weaknesses of both collaborators.
"Based on Eric Bentley's Brecht Memoir, as well as on extensive personal interviews with the writer himself, Marowitz has created an entertaining story that is simultaneously funny, perplexing and disturbing. Tossing in small bits of insight into both men, the playwright/director fuels his piece with some wonderful humor…As a writer, Charles Marowitz has taken an unflinching look at both his subjects. Neither escapes the playwright's analysis as he correlates similar aspects of their personalities and shortcomings. SILENT PARTNERS is a tug-of-war of wills as one man learns about himself through his friendship with another man whom he believes to have been quite special. But who instead, ultimately, turns out to have been neither hero, role model or villain, just simply a man named Bertolt Brecht." —CurtainUp. "This production is a joy to experience…This world premiere is a very significant event in Washington Theatre and one that should be seen and enjoyed by anyone that enjoys theatre that asks questions of the audience. To quote Mr. Brecht, 'Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.'" —DC Theatre Scene.