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This time it's personal.

SINCE HIS RIVETING TRIAL IN ISRAEL 50 YEARS ago, Adolf Eichmann has been seared into the minds of millions as the Nazi in the glass booth--a defiant war criminal inside a bulletproof chamber, insisting that he was only following orders in helping to mastermind the Holocaust.

But when Evan Wiener set out to write Captors, he zeroed in on the little-known specifics of Eichmann's 1960 abduction in Buenos Aires by a team of Mossad agents, who had to hole up for 10 days in a safe house before they could smuggle Eichmann out of Argentina.

Wiener's fast-paced play, debuting at Huntington Theatre Company in Boston through Dec. 11 (before an anticipated New York run), is based on former Mossad agent Peter Malkin's 1990 memoir Eichmavn in My Hands. The book recounts Malkin's dramatic attempt, as Eichmann's guard, to extract a signed consent from the Nazi agreeing to stand trial in Israel.

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"Everybody thinks they know Eichmann. They're using that name almost as a cultural shorthand. But there's a story here chat I felt hadn't really been told yet in a compelling way. I wanted to explore the details of what it was like to be so close to Eichmann, who was responsible for this unimaginable horror perpetrated on millions--including members of Malkin's own family," says Wiener.

The play becomes a thrilling clash of wills between two polar opposites. Eichmann (played at Huntington by Michael Cristofer) was controlled and calculated, while Malkin (Louis Cancelmi) was an unconventional agent who questioned orders and had an artistic sensibility. Malkin was not supposed to talk to Eichmann, but he ended up fostering a rapport with the Nazi, which he later turned to his advantage.

Wiener wrote Captors before the killing of Osama Bin Laden, but there are eerie echoes of that event in the story of Eichrnann's apprehension, and in the questions Wiener believes it raises. "How do you do the right thing when you're really dealing in moral quicksand?" he wonders. "The crimes are incredibly clear. The response to those crimes is where it really gets difficult, and it gets more difficult when we humanize the figure and he comes out of the box of his own iconography."

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Title Annotation:BOSTON; Evan Wiener's play about Adolf Eichmann, 'Captors'
Author:Wallenberg, Christopher
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Dec 1, 2011
Words:367
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