The New York Theatre Wire – Citizens of the Gray, or The Dark Thing that Sleeps in Me

By Larry Littany Litt. November, 2018. The New York Theatre Wire.

To see, feel, hear and sensually indulge in “Citizens of the Gray” is to recognize Elia K. Schneider as the hardest working director in the field of ‘image theater.’ This masterpiece took three years to workshop in Los Angeles and was well worth the time spent. I love experimental theater when it’s created from ideas. This action/play is just that.

From the moment I entered into the textless world of ‘Gray,’ I questioned my limited ability to understand a miming society that is living by its own rules, regulations and morals. Actions take place in small vignettes that gave me a shadowed window peek into relationships that were both uncensored and extreme. I was impressed that the actors were all playing hetero-normative roles with no cross-dressing or drag influences. Yet the over the top eroticism appealed to the elderly couple sitting next to me.

The beautiful ensemble players in Teatro Dramma, Schneider’s acting company, portray a mix of Latin music, cultures and dance styles while universalizing that world view of society gone mad and somewhat sad. From repression to border crossing the silence of the performers screamed at me. The alternative chaos or marching and the ‘ritmo’ of Latin dances charged the stage with a place that was filled with the push of culture both horrible and sweet.

For me it was the revealing erotic scenes that were the evening’s highlight. They engaged the eye and heart with moments of clowning passion that saw couples ‘in flagrante delicto’ and then torn asunder. The sex scene with an amputee’s prosthetic is poignant and hilarious as well as a fantasy I’ve never seen before.

This stimulating, gratifying and for some mystifying play is well worth your time. It speaks to our modern social dilemmas in silence, music and new forms of dance. It is a tragicomedy of philosophies and ideologies worthy of Charlie Chaplin. I hope there is more to come.

Original ArticleHere

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