Marionetnshpil: Af yener velt

[Puppet Play: On the Other Side]


Before the doors to Heaven and Hell. God is congratulating himself for being so mighty, for being eternal and for being first. “Before me no one thought of creating worlds and people and animals and birds and fish and worms. I am such a clever fellow.” The Devil approaches. God demands praise and wants to know if the Devil killed the wagonload of Jews as requested. The Devil stalked and stalked and lurked and lurked, but alas, at the last moment they suddenly started praying. God bemoans the trials of getting mixed up with Jews and dismisses the Devil with instructions to supply Philadelphia with headaches. God and the Devil exit, Gabriel enters. Gabriel comments on the doings in Heaven and Hell. It’s quiet in Hell today. Some guys stole the Devil’s tarpots, so he can’t boil anyone. Jewish Heaven is boring. All they care about is food, gobbling Leviathan and Giant Ox and swilling the Wine of Creation. It seems Gentile Heaven is livelier. Gabriel contemplates a nap in Heaven, but God’s voice interrupts, demanding more praise. “Who’s great?… Who’s wise?… Who’s mighty?” A Saint and Sinner enter, wrapped in shrouds. Neighbors, they both died in a fire. The Saint is confident that he’s going to Heaven. All his life, he kept the fasts, mortified his body and lived with an ugly wife. The Sinner is worried. He’s drunk wine, played cards and sinned with beautiful women. Gabriel is dismissive of the Saint’s piety and concern for his soul. Nobody wants souls anymore. Anyway, God no longer keeps track of people’s good deeds and bad deeds. The bookkeeping was too expensive. Now they draw lots. The Sinner is an old hand at games of chance. The Saint draws the losing lot and is sent off to Hell, while the Sinner is ushered into Heaven. God’s voice demands more praise, “Who’s great?… Who’s wise?… Who’s mighty?” His voice falls silent. Gabriel, shuffling off stage gestures toward the absent Saint and Sinner. “Who can envy them? (Pause. Indicates the theatre audience.) And who can envy you? (Pause. Very sad.) And who can envy me?”