A Recent Killing

Amiri Baraka

NY Times Review: February 4, 1973

AMIRI BARAKA (a.k.a. LeRoi Jones, the author of “Dutchman” and “The Slave”) has written a play that is quite strikingly not the sort of play that Mr. Baraka might be expected to write. It is called “A Recent Killing”; it has lain in Mr. Baraka’s trunk for a number of years; and it is now finally on view at the New Federal Theater on East Third Street.

It is an astonishing good natured play: even the most sensitive spirit could hardly find it anti‐white. True, there is an infantile white general in it, and a nasty white lieutenant (from Louisiana, however, In contravention of the currently fashionable idea that southern whites are preferable to northern ones because they are at least honest and without hypocrisy about their racism). But one of the black hero’s closest buddies is a humorous Jew named Laffkowitz—a token Jew, kept around for purposes of brotherhood, just like the token blacks that have appeared in so many white enterprises. With its uncharacteristic moderation, “A Recent Killing” lacks the hysterical fury of some of its author’s better‐known works, but it also lacks their power, compression, and pervading sense of purpose; perhaps Mr. Baraka needs his rage to fuel

Not that he has entirely changed his spots; “A Recent Killing” is not fundamentally a play about Race, but it is a play about Revolution. Airman Lennie J. Pearson, stationed on the Caribbean island of “San Loca” sometime in the mid‐1950’s, is a happy‐go‐lucky young fellow who has great difficulties in getting anywhere on time, and who thinks he wants to be a poet. But at the end of the play three of Lennie’s buddies are dead—two of them, including Laffkowitz, killed trying to free him from military prison—and Lennie is pointing a gun at the guards and shouting, “It is reality itself that must be changed!”

Presented as part of the 1975-76 Season

Artist Credits

Credit Artist Photo
Playwright Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka
Director Irving Vincent
Actor Gary Bolling
Actor Stephen Alan Itkin
Actor Carl Crudup
Actor Marcella Lowery

All 1975-76 Season productions: