Playbill Pride: From Angels in America to Hedwig, Our Top Ten Gay Plays

By Ben Rimalower
27 Jun 2013

Lothaire Bluteau and Clive Owen in the film

5. Bent
By Martin Sherman

In a strange way, Bent, Martin Sherman's acclaimed Tony-nominated 1979 play about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany, has done more to normalize gay people in the eyes of mainstream society at large than many works which portray LGBT individuals specifically as normal people within society at large. Perhaps suffering, as homosexuals did under Nazi oppression, is the great equalizer. I suppose the plight of the characters in Bent have the safe remove of being at the hands of the Nazis, the ultimate boogey men, and therefore no reflection of any bigotry on the audience's own part. Maybe it's that, and maybe it's also Sherman's incisive, nuanced writing that explains Bent's continuing to resurface in a series of high-profile revivals all around the world, as well as the successful 1997 film.