South Africa-born dramatist Nicholas Wright, who has written regularly for National Theatre in the UK, based A Human Being Died That Night on psychologist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela's book of the same name. This, in turn, was based on her interviews with De Kock, who was sentenced to 212 years of imprisonment for his crimes.
In chilling detail that's sometimes hard to watch, Olivier Award-winning actress Noma Dumezweni and British actor Matthew Marsh recreate the interviews in a smoky prison cell. The play becomes more than just a fascinating insight into the mind of a murderer who could be deceiving his interviewer in the hope of a presidential pardon; it also explores her own inner anger as she attempts to discover who he truly is.
So, how did a man who was disqualified from joining the South African Defence Force because of a stutter, and who was rejected from the South African Police's Special Task Force because of poor eyesight, become head of the apartheid regime's death squads? And was De Kock, a quiet boy verbally abused by his father and bullied by his schoolmates, genuinely repentant when he apologised at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
There are no easy answers to these and other questions about the capacity for evil and the possibility of forgiveness. Perhaps that's because the only way to accept the human being inside each monster is to accept the monster inside each human being.