Wright State University returns to sophisticated fare with a beautifully executed regional premiere of Lillian Groag’s semi-autobiographical, thought-provoking Argentinean drama The Magic Fire.
Commissioned and originally produced in 1997 by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the engrossing, highbrow Magic Fire concerns a close-knit family of European immigrants living in Buenos Aires circa 1952 during the divisive Juan Peron regime.
As chaos consumes the streets with ever-present military force, the argumentative, opinionated, opera-adoring Bergs are reticent to join the fray, opting instead to safeguard themselves within their own private world of culture and music they hope cannot be vanquished. The symbolism of their behavior and the play’s title astutely mirrors the final act of Richard Wagner’s opera Die Walküre, specifically Wotan’s decision to encircle his sleeping daughter Brünnhilde with an artificial wall of fire that only the bravest of men can penetrate. However, when the brother of the family’s housekeeper seeks shelter in their home, it becomes impossible to ignore the political turmoil swirling in their midst.
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