Bent by Martin Sherman
I've never seen this play performed but I picked up the published text last week and found it a compelling read: I can imagine the play working extremely well if given a serious, dedicated production.
It concerns the plight of homosexuals in Nazi Germany, particularly after the downfall of Rohm.....comparatively little is known about this subject, even today, so Martin Sherman's play is probably the most widely known/appreciated work on the subject.
The central character - Max - is somewhat unsympathetic, being a bit of a chancer who always puts himself first: during the course of the play, he is made to perform some truly horrible acts (such as beating his own lover to death, on the orders of a Nazi commandant) just so that he can survive.
The play is extremely moving and certainly not a 'gay ghetto' work. In fact, anyone interested in theatre/ history/the holocaust would get a lot out of it.
I wonder if anyone on here saw the 1979 premiere (sadly, with Ian McKellen - the world's most predictable actor - in the pivotal role of Max)? Am_51, perhaps? There is also a film but the fact that Mick Jagger was cast in it (albeit in a minor role) suggests that the makers of the film didn't have the play's best interests at heart.
Last edited by Mandryka; 23-10-11 at 19:00.
I thought the film was excellent. The two major characters (I'd have to think about which actors) were extremely moving. Jagger was in a minor role in the early scenes set in the decadent Berlin of the 30s.
My memory is hazy, but I seem to remember a Philip Glass score, which added to the tension.
Putting to one side the "sadly with Ian Mckellen" comment which strikes me as silly, I saw the 1990 revival in which Mckellen also appeared - as I recall his character was on stage throughout and I remember that he gave a most intense and impressive performance along with Michael Cashman (there are some live video clips online if you hunt around a bit). I'm glad the play reads well from the script - it was certainly effective in the theatre.
Originally Posted by Mandryka
After a bit of cheating (AKA research), I have remembered that the main actors were Clive Owen and an absolutely heart-breaking Lothaire Bluteau. Jude Law and Ian McKellan were in minor roles, which I had forgotten.
Originally Posted by VodkaDilc
I find McKellen's performances cringe-inducing these days: he has become a very bad, very mannered actor. I don't think his attempt to run a parallel career as a homosexual rights activist and professional atheist has helped his acting at all, because whenever he is required to play a heterosexual or religious character, one has too much of a sense of his baggage as an individual to be convinced. His verse-speaking is awful, too, and his King Lear was thoroughly embarrassing and not only when he was brandishing his penis at the stalls.
I saw the original production at The Royal Court with Ian McKellen and the late great Tom Bell and the revival at Royal National Theatre with Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman.
The former was a devastating evening but I'm afraid the latter was one long bore (others who hadn't seen the play disagreed) largely I think because of the structure of the piece.
The first half is lively, setting establishing the main characters and the life of Berlin in the 1930s and the demi monde Cabaret-world. The second part takes place in a concentration camp with only the two protagonists on stage for the whole act. They are required to lift, carry and apparently crush rocks from footlight to back of the stage while delivering some powerful lines. One scene has them standing to attention talking graphically about sex to the point of orgasm - if this fails to convince you then it is a disaster.
In the end I feel that everyone should see it once. It's a powerful play, a reminder of what human beings can do to each other and for a youngish gay man it was devastating to see men wearing pink triangles, a part of history that I thought I'd never see mentioned in the theatre. But once you know the story & what happens I'm afraid that the longeurs of the second half made it a still-relevant but dispiriting evening for me. Thanks for reminding me about it, Mandryka
I've not seen the film but I know that Lothaire Blutheau can be a devastating actor. Does anyone remember his almost-solo performance as the gay man who has murdered his lover in "Being At Home With Claude" at perhaps the Vaudeville Theatre, London many years ago? -an astonishingly intense and moving bravura performance. I'll try to see the film of Bent & thanks for mentioning it, VodkaDilc
I see that there is also a film of Being At Home With Claude with Blutheau in a minor role.
Last edited by amateur51; 24-10-11 at 16:18.
I saw an incredibly powerful production at Salisbury Playhouse in the early eighties, directed by the much missed, late David Horlock.