The powerful, provocative look at the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust, inset with a heart-rending account of a love, redemption and self-acceptance.

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Bent by Martin Sherman
Dreamwell presents Bent by Martin Sherman, directed by Angie Toomsen. Bent is the last regular show of the 2011-2012 Dreamwell season. The show will run June 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 at 7:30 p.m., with two shows Saturday, June 9, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 10 S. Gilbert St. Iowa City. Tickets are $13 regular, $10 students/seniors.

** Warning: Play contains nudity, violence and adult situations. Not intended for children.**

Bent stars K. Michael Moore as Max, Matthew James as Horst, Bryant Duffy as Rudy, Kehry Anson Lane as Greta, Kevin Burford as Uncle Freddie, and Per Wiger as Wolf.

Martin Sherman’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Bent, is at once is a powerful and provocative look at the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust and a heart-rending account of a love, redemption and self-acceptance.

Set in the wake of Hitler’s bloody political purge known as “the Night of the Long Knives,” Bent follows the horrific and transformative experiences of Max Berber, a homosexual man living in 1934 Berlin. As the final vestiges of Weimar decadence are dismantled, Max, with his lover, Rudy, is chased by the Gestapo from a flamboyant and self-destructive pre-war life of excess to the forests of Cologne and, later, to Dachau.

Within the crowded and barbed confines of a concentration camp, Max and fellow prisoner, Horst, construct an inviolate space and a forbidden intimacy that hides in plain sight. It is through Horst’s example, and through mortal peril and inhuman terror, that Max begins to learn to love and be loved.

Bent exploded onto the stage at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1979 with Ian McKellen in the role of Max. With blitz-like ferocity, the piece was transferred to Broadway the following year with Richard Gere in the role.

“It educated the world,” Sherman explains. “People knew about how the Third Reich treated Jews and, to some extent, gypsies and political prisoners. But very little had come out about their treatment of homosexuals.”

Decades later, it continues to challenge and confound audiences.

Bent is shattering and beautiful because it brings attention to universally relevant themes of the fear of love and intimacy and the struggle to accept who you are,” says director, Angie Toomsen. “These giving and skilled actors bring that essential story off the page with courage, care and grace.”