In for the Kill

Penumbra's WWII drama Black Eagles equates killing with heroism and black progress

Indeed, the play's most affecting sequences, as directed by Lou Bellamy, are set away from the action: One airman, Buddy, played by Lamont Thompson, has taken an Italian lover, played with an appealing insouciance by the diminutive Amy Lea Colón. Thompson is a towering man with an easygoing physicality, and when he jitterbugs with his girl, he occasionally simply lifts her in the air and carries her about like a rag doll. These scenes are played with a pleasing informality, as though the best thing about the war is the leaving of it--a startling contrast to the rest of the play, in which the soldiers seem to be slowly going mad for lack of action.

This weekend has given me multiple images of soldiers who cannot wait to face death. Yet these scenes from World War II stand in striking contrast to those found in the dispatches of such wartime correspondents as Ernie Pyle, who wrote of exhausted, terrified men who had seen so much of death that they had grown clinical about the subject. Gone is the hollow-eyed, thousand-yard stare of men made half deaf and bone-weary by war, replaced by an odder, more theatrical heroism in which no act is worth mentioning unless it has a German death attached to it.

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