Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

“I saw the picture; I think it’s a gay prison play.” Above are the actual words spoken by a student on campus upon seeing the advertisement for “Bent.” Yes, the characters depicted in the poster are homosexual and yes, they are located at the Nazi prison camp in Dachau. However, as director Leonard Kelly stated in the program, “Bent” is far more than just a “‘Holocaust play’ or a ‘gay play’.”

“Bent” is set during WWII in Berlin, and opens on Max (Eric Scotolati) staggering about his disheveled apartment after a night of debauchery. His happy-go-lucky partner, Rudy (S. Tyler Hoffman), joins him only to revel in Max’s drunken misfortunes.

While reliving the previous night’s events at the club, the Nazis barge into the apartment, shooting and killing Wolf, Max’s one night stand he brought home with him the night before.

Max and Rudy are forced to leave Berlin, and it is only a matter of time before they are captured and forced to the labor camp at Dachau.

En route, Rudy is picked on by the Nazis, and then severely beaten to the edge of death. Max is then forced by the officers to finish him off, killing the man that loved him before they even made it to camp.

On the train, Max meets Horst (Thomas Strawser), another homosexual prisoner who warns him of the dangers that lie ahead of them, as he has been through this once before. The homosexuals are the lowest of the food chain at the camps, being mistreated even by fellow prisoners such as the Jews and Criminals.

Max and Horst quickly form a bond, helping out one another as best they can with their limited resources. In one of the darkest moments in history, and the most horrifying time of their lives, a love is born.

“Bent” is controversial yet welcome in a society still plagued by ignorance and oppression. The persecution of the homosexuals did not end in the Holocaust.

As explained in the informative dramaturgy compiled by Michael Durkin, plenty of gay prisoners were subjected to imprisonment again even after being liberated.

This play, written by Martin Sherman, brings into light not only the struggles of homosexuals during WWII, but also the ones that still exist today.

And so “Bent” is also a love story, and more so than any other genre that may apply to it. The show is multi-faceted, with layer upon layer of emotion evoking a beautiful combination of laughter, fear, compassion and tears.

Every aspect of the show, from the lighting to the music, to the costumes and props, added greatly to these feelings, recreating a world as striking as it is horrifying. As human beings, we are capable of myriad emotions, but they all stem from the same foundation.

Presented by University Theatre, “Bent” was shown March 27 through April 1 at the E.O. Bull Center Main Stage Theatre.

“Bent” demonstrates that love is powerful and able to transcend the tribulations of life, no matter who you are. So celebrate that love, and get “Bent.

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