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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,505 ratings  ·  85 reviews
(Applause Books). Martin Sherman's worldwide hit play Bent took London by storm in 1979 when it was first performed by the Royal Court Theatre, with Ian McKellen as Max (a character written with the actor in mind). The play itself caused an uproar. "It educated the world," Sherman explains. "People knew about how the Third Reich treated Jews and, to some extent, gypsies an ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published 1979)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,505 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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This is kind of the gay theatrical version of Simenon's La neige était sale and equally powerful. It doesn't matter what terrible things you've done, it doesn't matter how far you've fallen, it's never too late to decide, fuck this shit, I'll find out what it's like to be a good person for a change and treat a fellow human being with love and kindness instead of ruining their life.

Someone should figure out how to turn this into a religion. I think it has real potential.
Leah Craig
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well! This utterly destroyed me, and I only read the transcript. How did humans who saw this play survive?? I’m done, bye world
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: gay mc, gay characters
tw: homophobia, concentration camp, torture, murder, forced necrophilia & pedophilia, suicide

i don't know what i was expecting when i started reading a play abt gay men during the holocaust... i'm just glad i didn't see this live & instead cried for an hour in my empty living room
Judd Lear Silverman
Enormously Powerful

Revisiting this play is as upsetting and moving as ever. It also talks of gay men as survivors who can and do love--even before the AIDS epidemic hit. It is an important chapter of our legacy. There will always be hate. There will always be survival. There will always be love--as long as we are human.
Miss Maya
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I finished this in two hours (hadn't done THAT in a while) and it's a play unlike any other, even when it comes to the Holocaust, there's nothing Bent, at least not that I know of. Prepared to be amazed, heartbroken and be shattered into pieces inside but somehow it's totally worth it. ...more
Ashley Marie
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqiap, plays
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Is it possible to feel joyous to read something as depressing as persecution of homosexuals during WWII Nazi regime? Yes, its possible and Sherman has delivered it.

Max and Rudy find love and affection during a time period where being anything other than what they were not expected to be, they were stripped of their humanity. Homosexuality wasn't just frowned upon but had serious and severe consequences. Exploring sexuality wasn't just an option but was a crime. Amidst all this, Max and Rudy live
The story that is not familiar to many. We all know (as we surely should) how Nazi regime treated Jews. We, however don't know how the same regime treated homosexuals. And I'm sure many would be very surprised to know that equally as Nazis labeled Jews they labeled homosexuals, though not with the same label. While Jews had yellow David star, gays had pink triangle. Now, pink triangle might ring the bell to someone. I didn't know till recently, my visit to Amsterdam where I stumbled upon the Hom ...more
"We were real."

Absolutely brilliant. It's raw, a story both about violence and love. I also appreciate the fact that the main character has flaws, and honestly not too likeable for most of the play. But here, that's one of the things that makes it so raw and just... real. It's not necessarily about Max while at the same time being exactly about who he is. If anything, the last ten pages are incredibly powerful; raw and emotional in a way that will haunt me for a long time.
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Usually I read the book and then see the movie. With, "Bent", I saw the play maybe 30 years ago???! From the play, I only remembered that a friend played one of the two lead roles, and his acting was amazing! I remembered that the play was performed on a plain, stark stage and that it focused on two gay men in a Nazi camp, during the Holocaust. That's pretty much all I remembered.
Today, I read the play. I just finished reading it this morning! The dialogue is simple and direct. For me, there w
A well-written drama that I can imagine is very powerful on the stage. However, it doesn't do very much to really explore its premise - a gay man sent to a concentration camp - other than to use it as window dressing for a brutal and tragic story. Some excellent character work and a series of brutal horrors, can't quite elevate the core simplicity of the storytelling. ...more
A magnificent, and sentimental, work surrounding sexuality and love during WWII. Really spectacular is what I will leave it at! And a favorite.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don’t think I have ever read a play so quickly; this was moving and gripping
Dee Dee OConnor
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
A powerful experience on a little known aspect of the Holocaust. I imagine this is devastatingly amazing on stage.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-historical
Review of the Film:

The powerful and moving film adaptation of Martin Sherman’s award-winning stage play. For almost 20 years, Bent has stunned theatre audiences around the world. Now adapted for the big screen by the author himself, this inspiring tale of love over oppression has even greater power and poignancy. Set amidst the decadence of pre-war fascist Germany, Bent is an emotional tale of love, as three homosexual men fight for survival in the face of persecution.

Directed by Sean Mathias
Emily Davies (libraryofcalliope)
This play follows the persecution of gay men in Nazi Germany, focusing on one man, Max, and his experiences. As you can imagine it is an intense play and thus trigger warnings apply. I read this play in near enough one sitting this afternoon. It is harrowing. The story follows Max, originally played by Ian McKellen, in the aftermath of the Night of the Long Knives wherein Max goes on the run but is eventually captured imprisoned in a camp. Max desperately wants to avoid being assigned the pink t ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bent has to be one of my all-time favourite plays. It is gut-wrenching, incredibly powerful and beautifully crafted. Sherman tells a Holocaust story that no one I was aware of had ever told before - the story of the persecution of homosexuals, who were the lowest of the low in the concentration camp pecking order. Written in 1979 the struggle of Max to accept himself, to learn to love in the most unlikely of places, still carries meaning today.


But it is not all doom and gloo
Becca Pirie
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t really gathered my thoughts on this play yet, so I don’t really know what to say about it here. It belongs to a very small group of texts that portray a fictional representation of the queer experience of the Holocaust, and an individualized experience of working in Dachau concentration camp. I can’t yet speak to the historical accuracy of certain elements, though in his book ‘Holocaust Drama’, Plunka has claimed it is “surprisingly” historically accurate given that not much informatio ...more
Emma Getz
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-plays, drama
“When I’m not dreaming about rocks, I’m dreaming about you.”

This is a short, tragic play that shocks you and devastates you but is an incredible insight into how quickly peoples lives were uprooted and destroyed during the Holocaust perhaps before they even had the chance to understand. That being said, it’s incredibly relevant and I think a revival would be very topical right now. Max’s character arc ends with his redemption in finally learning to love, and realize who he is. Very, very sad but
Jenny Yates
Jun 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay-men, ww-2, drama

This classic play was first produced in 1979, and was an important milestone in the public’s awareness of gay issues. It follows the story of a gay man in Nazi Germany – dealing first with social oppression and then with the cruelty of a concentration camp. It’s very powerful.
Andrew Wale
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Affecting, urgent and disturbing x
Momina Masood
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, american-lit, lgbtq
Heartbroken. Wonderfully written. A privilege to have come across this.
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wrought, formative
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: lgbtq, mlm, classics
I had to read this for school and I won't rate it. It was awful. Not the play itself. The topic. It was gruesome and horrible and probably really important to know about.
I'll advise sensitive readers to read it either very carefully or not at all.
I agree with all the five star reviews though, but I rate books according to my enjoyment, and I obviously didn't enjoy this even though it was objectively good.

This review is a mess and I'm not looking forward to relive the play in class today when dis
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A truly heartbreak play about the treatment of Queers in the Nazi era. Between a quarter and a half million homosexuals died in the concentration camps and even when the Allies freed the camps, anyone who had worn a pink triangle could not admit why he had been in the camp because it was still against the law to be homosexual and he could be returned to prison. That law was not abolished until 1969!
Siobhan B.
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tyler Moore
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a spectacular play depicting LGBT life during the Holocaust era. The ending wasn't quite what I had expected until I considered the real-life basis of the plot. This is a must read book for anyone interested in LGBT literature. ...more
Alice Rachel
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book or watch the play or the movie.
I am equally infuriated, disgusted, appalled, and heartbroken, though I am not surprised. It is a sad world when such atrocities do not surprise you.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This play was IMPOSSIBLE to put down. I read it all in one sitting. It ranged from jaw dropping sentences to sobbing in my bedroom. This is probably the best play I've ever read. The structure was so easy to follow, and the characters were easy to fall in love with. ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A seminal read during my formative years.

This is what literature is supposed to do; shed light on the undeniable commalities of the human experience, fostering empathy through an honest, well-constructed story.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
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