Haunted at home


POSTED: Friday, December 12, 2008

Frank Corelli returns from Iraq a deeply troubled soldier. He's facing war crimes charges stemming from an incident that resulted in civilian deaths following an attack on his unit, and he's being held in confinement while the Army investigation continues. In the meantime, Corelli is tortured by dreams of his best friend in the unit, Javier Diaz, whose death in an IED attack was the proximate cause of the unit's problematic act of vengeance.






        On stage: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (except Dec. 25 and 26), and at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 28


Place: The Actors Group Theater, 1116 Smith St.


Tickets: $16 (discounts for seniors, military, students, and groups of 10 or more)


Call: 722-6941 or visit



“;Why me?”; Diaz asks in Corelli's dreams. Corelli doesn't know. He also doesn't know how to describe what he experienced in Iraq to his loyal and loving wife, Gina, or convey how much of it has come back with him.

“;The worst day of my life, and I can't stop going over it,”; he tells her. “;You weren't there. You don't know.”;

But Gina also is stressed out. She is being shunned by the wives of the other men in the unit because Frank's account of the incident isn't the same as the others. It tends to support the theory that the men knowingly killed unarmed civilians.

Welcome to “;Ring of Fire,”; playwright Nancy Moss' latest look at America's war in Iraq. As presented by The Actors Group, “;Ring”; is well-acted theater. It also feels like a balanced look at life on the home front for members of the American armed forces. Moss brought a commitment to accuracy with “;The Last Outpost,”; a look at the civilian side of the American occupation, in 2004. “;Ring”; has a similar true-to-life feel that sounds like the result of much time spent talking with wives of American military personnel.

Amanda Palacios (Gina) and Cyrus Legg (Frank) excel as a couple trying to reconnect while each is dealing with problems that are bigger than the both of them.

Jenn Harris' Bonnie Earle is the veteran military wife; Bonnie keeps herself busy in her husband's absence by running a small home business. Instead of shunning Gina like the other wives in the unit, Bonnie renews their friendship—and suggests that Gina can help everyone by persuading Frank to revise his recollections to correlate them with the other soldiers' stories.

Su Yates (Diane Sims) is the conduit of gossip; the secretary of a senior officer, Diane is able to leak information and keep Bonnie informed of the status of the investigation.

Chad Williams (Mark Limm) is a sympathetic civilian kung fu instructor who encourages Gina's interest in martial arts as a way to relieve stress and regain control of her life.

Were war crimes committed? That's not the core issue of “;Ring of Fire”;; rather, the tale chronicles a beleaguered couple struggling to survive the aftermath.

But Moss covers related themes. For one, there's the perception that when possible war crimes are investigated, the American military reverses the precedents of the Nuremberg war crimes trials and prosecutes the lowest-ranking suspects first.

Another topic she broaches: Are lonely military wives targeted for sexual purposes?

Maybe that's a subject for Moss' next play.