Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Silver is Golden 

A peerless performer redeems a flawed play

If you have ever joyfully immersed yourself in the deeply mysterious and rewarding jazz solos of Miles Davis or Thelonius Monk, the theatrical version of those performances is now available for your viewing. And while Wings by Arthur Kopit is less than completely successful as a play, the performance at the heart of the piece is one you will not soon forget.

Dorothy Silver, in what is basically a solo with backup now at Lakewood's Beck Center, is surpassingly brilliant as stroke patient Emily Stilson. Interestingly, we are spared the sight of this aphasia-stricken septuagenarian as others see her. Instead, the playwright ushers us inside Emily's brain and body, experiencing how she answers doctors' questions and subsequently not understanding why they can't hear or understand her. Such is the profound frustration of losing one's ability to communicate.

We learn from Emily's jaunts into her memory bank that she had been an aviatrix and wing-walking daredevil in her youth, circa World War I. And she uses that background to try to understand what is happening to her in the present. She imagines her brain having crashed, and she is now at a farmhouse disguised as a hospital, with enemy agents (the doctors and therapists) plying her for information.

Initially speaking in doubletalk, with real words gradually mixed in as her condition improves, Silver negotiates this challenging word- and soundscape with unerring precision. She rhapsodizes (about flying), she rails at the docs, she is sarcastic and tender, she is angry and devastated. In short she is everything, and she is magnificent.

Send feedback to

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation