Off Broadway Theater Review: APOLOGIES (AND OTHER GREY AREAS) (The Paper Industry)

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by Sarah Taylor Ellis on December 23, 2011

in Theater-New York


Something is happening in New York theater. With their latest “ugly opera” Apologies (And Other Grey Areas), The Paper Industry explores the uncertainty of beginnings and the possibilities of the present through a compelling combination of design, music, and movement: a thrilling theatrical excavation of Schrödinger and Heisenberg’s work in physics.

A man lies on the stage as the audience takes their seats in the theater. An ensemble of dancers hidden behind a large wall begins rhythmically pounding on this barrier as the house lights come down. The performance, we realize, has already begun. By the end of the show, the man will have deconstructed the wall behind him piece by piece, revealing an ensemble of women dancing to pulsing house music. What is enthralling is not the narrative, but the very act of the play’s becoming from moment to moment. The audience must be constantly attenuated to shifts in the theatrical work, the gradual emergence of something new and different.

Jamie Peterson’s clever writing and direction engages the man in a witty internal dialogue with himself; Sam Trussell and Chris Masullo face off in a fragmentary Q&A full of physics debates and Schrodinger’s cat jokes. Between questioning himself atop a mirror-floored platform, the man periodically steps down to remove a piece of the wall behind him. Through the ever-increasing number of holes in the wall, seven female dancers perform in a canon of repeated movements that sometimes gives way to a thrilling unison. Carter Matschullat and Hard Mix’s kaleidoscopic house music amplifies the show with shifts in the musical layers; the ongoing process of emergence in the music – adding and subtracting sounds, occasionally turning the beat around – parallels the emergence of the theatrical movement.

Apologies (And Other Grey Areas) by The Paper Industry – Off Broadway Theater Review by Sarah Taylor EllisOnly towards the end of the show does the audience realize what has emerged narratively: the man’s love for a woman. Although the man retrospectively identifies a point of origin for his feelings, Apologies (And Other Grey Areas) offers a visceral experience of how this this sentiment has subtly shaped across time. This thought-provoking piece is only one step in The Paper Industry’s own emergence as a promising theatrical company to follow.

photos by Hunter Canning

Apologies (And Other Grey Areas)
ended its New York run on December 17
for more information, visit

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