Black AngelBy Michael Christofer
Directed by Rob Mulholland
King's Head Theatre, London - 1990
Frank Finlay ... Martin Engel
Lynn Farleigh ... Simone Engel
John Tordoff ... Claude
Bernard Gallagher ... Louis Puget
Simon Rouse ... August Moreault
Alex Hardy ... Sgt. Andy Raines
Adrian Rawlins ... Sgt. Bob Hawkins
Bradley Cole ... Hooded Figure
Derran Spencer ... Hooded Figure
Martin Engel, a former SS officer accused of overseeing the massacre of 247 Jews in a French village during World War II, has come to that very town following his release from prison, hoping to build a house and live out his days in peace and solitude. Although the war crimes authorities are satisfied that Engel has paid his debt to society, the local townspeople are not of the same mind, and Engel's presence becomes a growing irritant.
Through his conversations with the mayor, his only friend in the village, we learn that Engel is a thoughtful and intelligent man who served his country out of duty rather than desire, and who gave orders to keep peace among the villagers, not to slaughter them. But the massacre did happen, and Engel cannot absolve himself from guilt by association.
In the play's chilling climax, he offers no resistance as the townspeople close in for his execution - raising questions not only of guilt and expiation, but also whether such punishment, with its disquieting reflection of the cancerous hatred unleashed by the Nazis, might not hurt the hangmen as well as the victim.