8/6/2013 8:56 PM
“Hello from Bertha” is a heart wrenching play about the eviction of a dying prostitute, Bertha, from a run-down brothel in East St. Louis. Incapable of working, Bertha is forced to consider where she can go to suffer through her illness. Unable or unwilling to move home, Bertha is encouraged by the pragmatic manager of the bordello, Goldie, to contact an old boyfriend, Charlie. However, Bertha struggles to bring herself to admit to him that she has fallen so low.
Like many of Tennessee Williams’ works, “Hello from Bertha” captures a vignette of human existence that most people try to ignore. Although “Hello from Bertha” is a short play, it is long enough to discomfort any audience. At the same time, the desperation of a human being with so few options for comfort, much less recovery, whose situation will probably become worse before she finally passes away, is an eye-opening reminder that theater can be much more than entertainment. It can also be a powerful call to act for societal change.