FIRE IN A DARK HOUSE
“What kind of war is it?”
It sounds like a classic Hollywood movie. A couple who find love in the most difficult time. Remember Romeo and Juliet? That didn’t end well. A similar scenario occurs between Rose Roebling (Augusta Mariano) and James Lick (Aaron Stevenson). She’s German living on a farm with her family and he’s Jewish with a fanatic for a father. James’ dad is Simon Lick (Paul McCrillis does an excellent job as the evil zealot) who wants to rid of the Germans. The doomed couple are trapped between World War I and their individual families trying to split them apart. The war has affected Rose’s family in different ways. Her feisty younger sister Wilimenia affectionally referred to as Willie (Tallulah Henderson does a wonderful job as the war-loving tween) and brother Henry (great performance by Sanford Reed) is patriotic. Their father Carl (the talented Andrew J. Langton) is a family man who emigrated from Germany and stands by America.
Carl’s estranged daughter Mary (Margy Love) returns after leaving her abusive and alcoholic husband Flynn, who fights overseas. Carl and she have a tumultuous relationship. Mary took over the house after their mother died and left to get married to escape the draining responsibility. When Mary left, Rose took over. Her only salvation is James. When they secretly meet, they discuss about getting married, but, most importantly starting a new life somewhere else. Simon coordinates an anti-German campaign in town. This is when Rose and Jim plan their escape. The air is thick with war propaganda.
In the midst of the turmoil, the couple make plans and Carl tries to hold his fragile family together. Simon continues to work the crowd into a frenzy with his fiery speeches and unbelievable predictions of the world. He’s the epitome of a slick-ass politician in a cheap suit, shouting against the Germans. He demands that Carl show support for the war by buying Liberty Bonds. If Carl refuses, Simon threatened to print the names of people who don’t buy bonds. That overt threat scares many people but not Carl. He goes against Simon’s orders and ends up being tarred and feathered for his trouble. Nobody leaves unscathed. The war affects everyone for better and worse. By the end, the timid Mary becomes a suffragette and speaks up for women’s rights and Henry decides which side to fight for. But, it is Rose who makes the biggest sacrifice for herself and her family and fellow Germans. Writers Traci Mariano and Mona Z. Smith do a fantastic job in conveying the ugliness and reality of how war affects people and what people will do to stand up against the enemy. War isn’t just hell. It’s a great son-of-a-bitch with lasting imprints so people won’t forget what truly happened.
Fire in a Dark House plays only Thursdays nights at 8 p.m., November 1st, 8th and at the Whitefire Theatre, located at 13500 Ventura Blvd., in Sherman Oaks. For ticket information, log-on to www.fireinadarkhouse.bpt.me or call 1-800-838-3006.