"Bent" show review 

Nominated for a Tony in 1980 - before AIDS, gay marriage, and gay marriage bans - Martin Sherman's play about the Nazi internment of homosexuals must have blown quite a few gaskets. Then as now, one could interpret the play to mean that during the Holocaust homosexuals had it worse than Jews, or that homosexuals still live under a Nazi-like persecution. But Bent is less a play wrapped around ideology than a play of ideas buoyed by a strong sense of people, time and place. With almost no set or props, Rod Isaac's Bent attains a cinematic richness. Through the image of one man's hangover and another man singing in drag, we understand that the gay party life of 1934 Berlin is over. A life of hiding, tent cities and forced labor has begun. There are no saints seeking martyrdom, just men who lived as they pleased until it pleased others to end it. Pale, hunched over and skinny, Michael Swinford makes a perfect anti-hero, Max, a hard drinker with a knack for making shady deals but little money. "Bent" refers to the derogatory term for gay men, but Max is bent in a universal way. He is twisted, as if he doesn't fit into his own skin. From beginning to end, it is a pleasure to watch him grow into it. Through June 20; 850-4665.

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