Theater Arts Stoked the Flames with “Firebugs.”

Moises Torres, Staff Writer

A dramatic manifestation of onstage talent, powerful satire, and climatic scenes glued the audience to their seats as “Firebugs: A Morality Without a Moral” delivered a jolting punch.

“Firebugs” was written by Max Frisch and translated by Mordecai Gorelik, written for radio in 1953, following World War II as an allegory for Nazism, and presented off-Broadway in 1963.

It was a vivid musical exploration of humanity, morality, ethics, and comedic humor. The play delved into areas intrinsic to humanity, where morals and benevolence are abundant, yet hard to manifest on a daily basis. It challenged the audience to look into their own sphere of humanity and deal with obscure precepts of goodness.

Directed by Ed Douglas, the story revolves around arsonists who disguised themselves as door-to-door salesmen,  who easily persuade their victims to let them into their homes. Arsonists plague the town and a stern warning is circulated around the town to report any suspicious behavior. This action instills paranoia and anxiety into the inhabitants of the town.

The story begins as Schmitz, one of the arsonists, performed by Aldo Garcia-Padilla, arrives at the home of Mr. Biederman, a German businessman played by Peter Von Sholly. Schmitz is greeted by Anna, the maid played by Amanda Pepper, who quickly becomes annoyed by the excessive demands of Schmitz. Thereafter, Anna’s hands are even busier as she tends to Schmitz’s accomplice, Eisenring, performed by Kyle Tristan Chua. Moreover, Babette, Mr. Biederman’s wife played by Angela Thompson, constantly despises Schmitz and Eisenring, wishing they would leave their residence.

Powerful narratives unfold as they challenge the benevolence of Biederman. They utilize the precepts of good will and humanity to sway Biederman into harboring their gasoline and fire equipment. At first Biederman is inquisitive about Schmitz and Eisenring’s intentions, yet he falls victim to their subtle rhetoric. Biederman unknowingly aides their efforts as he is under the illusion that Eisenring and Schmitz are his friends.The dynamic duo provides a refreshing, witty and humorous dialogue as the storyline revolves around their comedic interactions with Mr. Biederman and their manipulation of Babette.

The acting was enticing, powerful, and compelling. The actors from this pool of talent were quality at its finest. For a moment, one may have forgotten they were students, and not Hollywood A-listers. They provided the refinement, the energy, and  skills to adequately portray their onstage characters. Church bells set a dark, tense mood and characterized the evolution of the play. It ran jitters down your spine as you couldn’t help but feel the suspense of what was going to happen next. Then without notice, the town firefighters raided the stage. Cold, stoic, and powerful   characterized their demeanor as their presence provided a dialogue that captured your attention immediately.

In addition, the play was elevated by the pinpoint aesthetic appeal of the costumes and props. Maybe they could have been more dynamic to add more dimensions to the plot, but they were on point nonetheless. The design of the stage established the right setting and allowed the stage to create the perfect ambiance. It was perfect for the elaborate storyline and Douglas’ distinct directing skills. Some of the positives were the intriguing performances of the cast, the subtle comedy, and the climactic finish that exacerbates heart- pumping suspense.

The directing was smooth and the transitions flawless. Douglas elaborated scenes clearly, and challenged your nerves constantly. He concluded the plot with a suspenseful climatic finish that left the audience emotionally satisfied. The hard work of Douglas, his talented cast, and everyone working behind the scenes was evident as they delivered a dramatic, heart pumping play.