Hellfire Pass is part one of ďA Carpenterís Trilogy: A Chronicle in Three Plays,Ē a family drama that begins in 1920s Italy when two brothers book passage to America in search of a better life, Eduardo Rosato promising to send for his reluctant wife and two children when his fortunes improve.
Years later, in 1956 Chicago, thirty-six-year-old Silvio Rosato arrives at the home of his estranged father with a request. The son Eduardo left behind when he came to America, now grown and with a family of his own, needs a favor: Silvio wants his father to sign over the deed to the home in Italy so that he may use the proceeds to bring his family to Canada, where he has applied for citizenship.
Simple enough on its face, but unfortunately, Silvioís request exposes years of secrets and duplicity, pent up emotions and accumulated guilt. In the intervening years, Silvio has grown up, been drafted into World War II, and spent the final years of the war as a British POW. He has looked death in the eye as a prisoner of war, determined never to lose his honor. To this end, Silvio has honored his commitments, begun a family and set his sights on a future in Canada.
Surrounded by his wife, Angelina, daughter Ida, and younger son, Eddie Jr., Eduardo must look Silvio in the eye and meet him man to man, having abandoned the boy, his mother and sister when Silvio was only four months old. Although Eduardo acknowledges to himself that his sonís demand is not unfair, he is deterred by family dynamics, Idaís husband lobbying for her share of the house in Italy.
Unfettered, the tension builds, first-born son interfering with the delicate balance of his fatherís second family. While Silvio has come only asking for what is his due as well as recognition from his father, the family is unaware of the history Eduardo and his second wife, Angelina, have created. Their duplicity results in an emotional conflagration that leaves everyone stunned, the ugly truth exposed.
His dark secrets revealed, Eduardo can no longer hide behind his role as patriarch, garnering the respect of his family. His decisions, then and now, appear crass and self-serving. Intent on creating a better future, Silvio will not be deterred by an old manís stubbornness, especially the father who abandoned him, his mother and his sister and a future that never materialized.
The dialog is riveting from the beginning, the family members reacting erratically to the changing circumstances and their expectations for the half-brother they have never met. When the truth is exposed, the family dynamic is shattered, a father shamed before his children. This powerful and passionate family drama as is as poignant and heartbreaking as the seeds of dishonesty that were sown years before. The past demands an accounting.