Bent at Surry Hills’ Belvoir St. Downstairs Theatre is an effective, at times emotional look at a part of the holocaust some may still not be aware of.

In 1930s Germany, Hitler and the Third Reich started a crack down on gay people, and they were arrested and sent to concentration camps or worse.

The story starts off in Berlin, watching the relationship between Max, the protagonist, and his boyfriend, Rudy (aka the dancer).  Things start to go horribly wrong when someone they’ve just met is arrested in their apartment by the Nazis.

They learn of the crackdown, and flee Berlin, for a short time living in an unemployment camp before being arrested and put on a train to Dachau.

Max is told on the train that pink triangles (the symbol used on the clothing for gay prisoners) were treated worse than anyone in the prison, even the yellow stars (Jews).

Max is forced into a barbaric and painful act to prove he doesn’t know Rudy, and is actually straight.  He earns his yellow star, and forces all thoughts of Rudy out of his head.

He then falls in love with a fellow prisoner, very slowly until he eventually performs a final act of sacrifice to be at peace with himself.

During the last 10mins, I was fighting back a few tears.  The intimacy of the Downstairs Theatre at Belvoir helps make you feel more involved in what you are witnessing.

Nick’s rating: **** (four out of five)