Given that New Stage Collective (NSC) has made its mark in several recent seasons with scripts that still have fresh ink, it might come as a surprise that its next production, Martin Sherman’s Bent, first came to an off-Broadway stage back to 1978, and then to London. But here we are, almost three decades after its Broadway premiere (it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Awards in 1980), and the show is finally receiving its first professional Cincinnati production. Bent is about a gay man whose experiences move from the hedonistic cabarets and clubs of 1930s Berlin to persecution in a Nazi concentration camp. NSC’s Alan Patrick Kenny, who is directing the provocative play, asks, “How important is this play? Before Bent, Nazi persecution of gays was not widely understood in popular culture. In a historical sense, society at large was, at best, unaware or, at worst, ambivalent to reports of suffering by gays in concentration camps. The impact of this drama on popular understanding of homosexual persecution is immeasurable.” Four of the actors in NSC’s production are drama students at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music; a fifth is a student at Wright State University. The play’s message about tolerance, love and human dignity is still powerful. We should be grateful to NSC for finally bringing Bent to a Cincinnati stage. Performances continue through April 5. $12-$20.
Read Rick Pender's review here.