Agazzi’s drawing room
Agazzi’s drawing room (ah-GATZ-ee). Comfortable apartment of an unnamed central Italian town’s major official, the middle-class bureaucrat Commendatore Agazzi, that is the play’s main setting. Agazzi’s family and townspeople complain that his clerk Signor Ponza cruelly does not allow his wife and his mother-in-law, Signora Frola, to see each other. Agazzi opens his home to the meddling townspeople to question the clerk and mother-in-law separately, each of whom gives conflicting versions of the truth about the wife’s identity. Is she Ponza’s first wife or a second wife following the terrible earthquake in Marsica? The citizens take sides and cannot arrive at one truth because all family records have been destroyed by the earthquake. When summoned, the wife testifies that she is whomever one thinks her to be.
As the playing field of the action, Agazzi’s drawing room reveals a family of pained sufferers with a secret sorrow surrounded by busybody townspeople and ineffectual provincial politicians who find that the “truth” cannot be known.
*Marsica. District of central Italy’s Abruzzi region, which borders the Adriatic Sea, that is mentioned in the play as the place from which the Ponza and Frola families come. In January, 1915, the real Marsica was, in fact, ravaged by a devastating earthquake that killed more than thirty thousand people and destroyed several villages in the region. The region’s history makes the suffering of the Ponza-Frola family and total loss of their identification papers plausible.
Although the play appears to be set in central Italy, its allusions to crowded villages, petty middle-class society, government bureaucracy, and passionate persons who have undergone suffering were probably inspired by the Sicily in which Pirandello grew up.