Theatre: Bent

Today I was mentioning to colleagues how I was going to the theatre tonight to see Bent and they were a little surprised with my excitement in seeing a revival of a play set in Dachau about two gay men. Well Martin Sherman's play is still well regarded, and the reviews from this new revival with Alan Cumming at the Trafalgar Studios have been good. I was also seeing it with A who insisted that we sit up close to appreciate the show, and its full-frontal nudity, without having to rely on opera glasses.

It was not a light night out at the theatre however... Not that it wasn't watchable, but the full-frontal nudity gave soon gave way to blood-spattered walls and trashed apartments. The play opens in Berlin on the "Night of the Long Knives" when Hitler executed Ernst Röhm and his gay stormtroopers. Suddenly it wasn't good to be gay in Nazi Germany. The play then follows, step by squeamish step, the fate of the three main characters.

The first half was a bit distracting with over the top performances by the supporting cast playing naughty Nazi stormtroopers and odd theatrical effects that included a fire that was blindingly bright for a few seconds... Although Richard Bremmer performs a great new song in drag written for the play by Chris Lowe (of Pet Shop Boys fame) and Sherman, by the time intermission came around, with all the blood, fireballs and other balls on display I needed a G&T...

The second half of the play set in the concentration camp is when I found the story becoming particularly involving and the relationship that developed between Cumming's character Max and Horst, who he meets on the train to Dachau. Horst was played by Chris New and there was a wonderful chemistry between him and Cumming and it gave the play the heart that it needed. Here's hoping there is more of Chris New in the West End and beyond soon as he delivered an incredible performance.

Still, no play on a subject matter like this is going to make you do a conga line out of the theatre. As an antidote, I suggested we go to a nearby bar for mojitos. Finally relaxing over sensible cocktails A suggested the next thing we see should be The Sound of Music as something a bit lighter. Fortunately I wasn't that drunk to agree to seeing that...

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