Bent by Martin Sherman was a grown up The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas for me. This might seem unfair to the brilliance that is Bent, however, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is the only book that has ever made me cry before reading Bent. After reading it I decided I wouldn’t read another novel set or focusing on concentration camps. I often have to look away from pictures from the camps and since leaving school often avoid documentaries on the subject, because despite it being so important to remember these horrors it is so incredibly hard to see the unnecessary pain and suffering experienced.
However, Bent simply couldn’t be left on the shelf. I should probably point out that Bent is a play (and also a very good film) and if it comes on and I’m able to get tickets I’ll definitely be in the audience. This play, even when read, is truly amazing. An incident on the train uses space, light, and dark in an interesting and innovative way. Greta also makes for an interesting example of how many people hid their true identities for survival.
The bickering between Max and Rudy mirrors so many ordinary relationships, making their fate even more upsetting. Sherman brilliantly shines a light on the brutal persecuted of homosexuals by the Nazis (of course, there has remained persecution and discrimination since then). Whilst we (should) all be aware of atrocity’s committed against the Jewish community, it is important that the other groups that faced the same ruthlessness are represented in literature, art and history.
Sherman also shows the difference in treatment of the groups within the camps, and what was necessary for survival.
Whilst I don’t want to ruin the plot, Sherman does explore the power of imagination to create connections between people. Sherman shows how it is possible to find identity and power over the self in even the bleakest of places.
A devastating but essential read/watch.