Nights of Wrath

Nazi-controlled Chartres…April, 1944. A resistance fighter who has blown up a train is killed by the Gestapo, and the friend who betrayed him to collaborators is executed by other resistance members. Nights of Wrath travels back in time to unravel the secret of the betrayal as it takes a searing look at anti-Nazi terrorism and pro-status-quo collaboration.

Armand Salacrou (1899-1989) wrote Nights of Wrath in 1946, one year after the end of the Second World War. The play explores the heroism of France’s ‘secret army’, which Salacrou had witnessed first-hand as one of the members of the intellectual resistance alongside Jean-Paul Sartre and others but, much more unusually, Nights of Wrath also examines the ease with which many outwardly respectable French slipped into passive or active collaboration without ever particularly meaning to.

However, the most striking feature of the play for modern audiences is that it isn’t just about the 1940s. Its exploration of the motives for going to war, the moral paradoxes of terrorism, the impossibility of neutrality, and the problems of an ethical politics in a faithless age are all highly relevant today, as this new translation emphasises by adopting a 21st-century idiom for a play written more than half a century ago.

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