Colin and I went to see the play, “Bent” tonight at Belvoir Street.
Colin had seen a production at the National Theatre (he thinks) in London many years ago, and I had a vague recollection of seeing the movie which featured Clive Owen, Ian McKellen and Mick Jagger amongst others also.
The story concerns two men who are in the concentration camp at Dachau, a concentration camp which both Colin and I had also – separately – visited. The character of Max, played by Radek Jonak is from a reasonably wealthy family, though estranged from them because he’s gay. Imprisoned at Dachau, he becomes friends with Horst, played by Sam Haft. as they work on a “chain gang” moving rocks. The moving of the rocks served no other purpose, by the way, than to drive the participants insane.
Although they’re both gay, Max declares himself Jewish because he is told in the concentration camps, the Gays were lower on the social scale than the Jews. Max and Horst subsequently fall in love, and there are some wonderfully touching scenes between them, even though they can’t physically look or touch each other. Beyond that, saying anything else would be a plot spoiler for anyone going to see the play.
I can safely say, however, there were moments when we both laughed, and moments when we were both on the verge of tears. Dealing with Nazism, and the way in which the Nazis attempted to debase the human condition, there are also many confronting themes and images. It’s not a night of light theatre. That said, we both came away having enjoyed the experience so much. Mostly because it is about the triumph of the human spirit.
It’s a really good play. And the production is really good also. For just a brief moment near the beginning of the play we were both concerned the production seemed a bit amateurish, as the caricatured Nazi officers were a little over the top. There’s also a bit of gratuitous – though not unpleasant – nudity near the beginning of the play. But the strength of the play, and the performances by the lead actors came through. The actors who played Max and Horst were both very, very good.