Martin Sherman’s Bent has been credited with raising awareness about the persecution of homosexuals during the holocaust and even encouraging historical research and education on the topic. Set between 1934 and 1936, the ’70s-era play follows Max, a man whose unwillingness to hide his homosexuality has estranged him from his wealthy family. After spending the night with a Nazi Brownshirt named Wolf, Max and his boyfriend Rudy awake to his murder by the SS as part of the Night of the Long Knives, a political purging that engulfed gays in the era’s wave of Nazi terror. Leaving behind a hedonistic diet of nightclubs, drugs, sex, and alcohol, the lovers flee the scene and go into hiding only to land on a cattle truck headed for Dachau. With haunting results, Max poses as a Jew in hopes of a lightening of his sentence and avoiding being shamed with a pink triangle on his jacket. Although tortured with Sisyphean labor, Max and his neighboring cellmate Horst somehow still find love at the brink of death. Nominated for both a Pulitzer and a Tony in 1980, Bent has been described as an “unflinching, often disturbing examination of cowardice and courage in the face of withering human cruelty” (North County Times), a “warming testament to the strength and power of the human spirit” (PinkNews), and “theatre at its thought-provoking best and one which everyone should be encouraged (if not actually compelled) to attend” (London Theatre Guide). Staged in more than 30 countries throughout the ’80s, the groundbreaking play has starred the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Gere, and Alan Cumming in the role of its tragic anti-hero. Directed by Chelsea Taylor, Bent is the final production in the Proxy Theatre Company’s inaugural season. $8-$32 with various levels of involvement; 8pm Thu-Sat through Aug 4; Overtime Center for the Arts, 1203 Camden, (210) 865-7618, proxytheatre.org.
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