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Larry Littany Litt
Citizens of the Gray
Or This Dark Thing That Sleeps In Me
The ensemble draws lots to play Russian Roulette. Photo by James Rucinski.
November 9 to 25, 2018
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave.
Directed by Elia K. Schneider
Presented by Theater for the New City in association with Teatro Dramma and Elia Schneider.
Executive Producers Maria Baena and Rosa Rubio
Produced and Lighting Design by Joseph Novoa
Stage Choreography by Tony Duran
Original Music by Osvaldo Montes
Costume Designs by Ivana Profeta
Prop Designs by Lytza Colon
Reviewed by Larry Littany Litt on November 18, 2018
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.
The citizens pay taxes. Dog puppet by Litza Colon.
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.
Tony Duran (who happens to be stage choreographer), Maria Baena.
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.
"in flagrante delicto" -- Siumara Samayoa, Hector Vera.
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.
L-R: Corinna Camero, Juliana Betancourt, Christina Castillo.
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.
See additional coverage of this production by Paul Berss.
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