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I caught Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble’s performance “Bent” last night and will pen a couple of thoughts before I hit the sack. After a very successful 1st season in July, Martin Sherman's (1979) revolutionary piece speaks of the devastating story of how Nazis persecuted gays in the Dachau camp during WWII. The performance was staged at The Attic (literally) - 21 Tanjong Pagar Road. Took a slight while to locate the 4 storey shop house. The crampy rooftop space with dark painted walls had this long make shift wooden run-way which served as the stage. There was no stage deco except for dangling nets made out of raffia strings. Audiences set on the most uncomfortable plastic chairs which somehow combined to give the act its dingy and sleazy feel.

The story starts off in Berlin 1934, where Max (Brendon Fernandez), is living the decadent and promiscuous Berlin nightclub life. Though dedicated to his lover Rudy (Chua Enlai), who performs in the cabaret, Max’s one-night stand with an attractive German soldier leaves them running for their lives as Hitler’s Gestapo closes in on them. In a desperate fight for survival, Max and Rudy get captured and Max is made to aid in the brutal torture and murder of his lover.
In the indignity of a filthy crowded train headed to Dachau, a fellow prisoner, Horst (Keagan Kang), teaches Max how to cope with the new order. To make it off the train, he must harden his heart and fake his sexual preference to a dead woman. For this act, he received a “Star” (representing Jews) label instead of the scorned upon “Pink Triangle”. In the harsh conditions of the workyard at Dachau, Horst teaches Max another life-saving lesson, not about the survival of the body but about the survival of the human heart. Max learns through his powerful bond with Horst, that survival, like intimacy, has less to do with the human flesh than with personal truth and fundamental human dignity.
I’m a sucker for stories surrounding the Nazi Concentration Camps era. It’s a love story of a different kind… “Love” can be found in the wrong places, with the “wrong” person… but nevertheless, at some point, could it still be love? Are all "Love" right? I’m too tired to attempt analyzing “Love” now… it would be interesting to do so some other time.
Despite a pro-gay theme, the lack of good props, stage and costumes were over-looked by a good cast and powerful script. I liked the fact that director, Beatrice Chia portrayed the play without forcing in German flavours but with local simplicity. Certainly a controversial piece.

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