Review On Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room


Eric A Gordon

Eric A Gordon

Registered Critic


Harding is portrayed as an unconscious tool of other men, other forces, almost hounded by inevitable fate, preordained by destiny as if in some ancient Greek play where the gods command the last word in the action. From a dramatic point of view, perhaps it could be said that Harding is not even the protagonist. That part goes to Daugherty, who also has to overcome the paralysis he encounters in Florence Kling Harding (Roslyn Cohn), the senator’s superstitious, shrewish wife (five years older than Harding), whose fervent belief in “the stars” and in their infallible interpreter, a certain clairvoyant Madame Marcia, presents a powerful obstruction to the progress of the plan.

Mrs. Harding, smart, sarcastic and sassy, has the best lines in the play. “You and your friends,” she snarls to Daugherty, “will dictate to my husband. And why not? He never had any ideas of his own to begin with…. I can see nothing but tragedy, turmoil and heartache.” She and Warren are all either of them has (how much she knows or cares about Nan is a question): “Desolation is my home town—population 2.”

Eric A Gordon
Eric A. Gordon, writes for People's World (peoplesworld.org). He has written for dozens of local, national, and international publications, mostly about art, music, culture, religion and politics. His undergraduate degree is from Yale and his doctorate in history is from Tulane. He was director of the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring in Southern California from 1995 to 2010. Eric is the author of "Mark the Music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein," and co-author of "Ballad of an American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson." A book he translated from Portuguese ("Waving to the Train and Other Stories," by Hadasa Cytrynowicz) appeared in 2013. In 2015 he executive produced "City of the Future," a CD of Soviet Yiddish music from the 1930s. He is the former Southern California Chapter Chair of the National Writers Union (Local 1981 UAW/AFL-CIO).