Set during the Great War, “Fire in a Dark House” is a play about the complicated lives of one particular German immigrant family in a farming community in North America and their heart-wrenching experiences of anti-immigrant rhetoric, harassment, vandalism and financial ruin, all with the full support of the US government.
LtoR Aaron Stevenson Augusta Mariano photo By Doug Engalla
There are obvious overtones to the situation we all find ourselves in the present day. But the story is fully rooted in the period. The family, father, son and two daughters, a mother who died in childbirth to the youngest who is clearly on a spectrum of mental disability and hard to control. They all live and work on the family farm, the father, a leader in the German-American community. But the unrest of the war is not the only dilemma they face. The elder daughter is in love with the son of the local newspaper owner and chief ant-German antagonist, putting her, her love and in the end, her family in an impossible position.
LtoR Tallula Henderson Sanford Reed photo By Doug Engalla
As the drama plays out we get a taste of the hardships of rural life in a new world when old family ties can be hard to shake and the realities of treachery and hate and violence are faced on a daily bases. Choices are made, hearts are broken and lives changed forever…
Margy Love photo By Doug Engalla
This is a story that flows from sweetness to darkness in the blink of an eye. The characters are bold and the performances are really beautiful. The staging is simple but excellent and there are strong threads of lyrical and magical realism, which I loved, used to brilliant effect. It’s a story not often told about a time when the world still felt young and full of hope before a war threw us all into a turmoil that remains to this day.
Family and love, loss and war, fear and betrayal all on a global scale reflected in the story of a few good people trying to create a home. It’s touching and funny and tragic…I loved it.
It’s only on Thursdays at 8 PM but runs through November 15 at the wonderful Whitefire Theatre.
The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, 91423
Written by Mona Z. Smith and Traci Mariano
Directed by Traci Mariano
Tallula Henderson, Andrew Langton, Margy Love, Augusta Mariano, Paul McCrillis, Sanford Reed, and Aaron Stevenson.
Kaitlin Chang (Set Design), Cathy Small (Costume Design), Jeff Scott (Composer), Jeremy Robinson (Sound Design), and Katelyn Rydzewski (Stage Manager)