Monstrous Martydoms: Three Plays by Eric Bentley, Charles Dickens
Winner of 2006 International Association of Theatre Critics Thalia Prize Recipient of 2007 The Robert Chesley Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in Playwriting Winner of 2006 Village Voice OBIE Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
"The road will be red with monstrous martyrdoms, but we shall win." Oscar Wilde wrote these words at the end of the nineteenth century after serving two years at hard labor for the crime of being homosexual. This modern martyrdom is the subject of Lord Alfred's Lover, Eric Bentley's Brechtian dramatization of Wilde's last days.
H for Hamlet is another variation on the modern martyr play, this time in homage to Pirandello. The protagonist thinks, or once thought, he was Hamlet. Fantasy? Perhaps. But, to paraphrase Marianne Moore, there was a real toad in the imaginary gardena real martyr in the toy theatre.
In German Requiem, Bentley takes inspiration from Heinrich von Kleist's play The Schroffenstein Family, which in turn is a version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The young star-crossed lovers in his play are martyrs of an internecine conflict much like those seen in recent history in Ireland and the Middle East.