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The Grey Zone

The Grey Zone
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: Tim Blake Nelson
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 53
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822215748
ISBN-13: 9780822215745

About the Play:

The Grey Zone is a full-length drama by Tim Blake Nelson, based on the book Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, by Mikos Nyiszli. This truly searing play tells the story of the Sonderkommando, a small group of Hungarian Jews imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau placed by the Nazis in the excruciating moral dilemma of aiding the extermination process in return for a few more months to live. The play deals with their crippling guilt and also their acts of compassion.

The Grey Zone is set in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and based on actual events during World War II. Recruited by the Nazis, a group of Hungarian Jews are promised they will live longer if they assist in the extermination of other Jewish prisoners. As if their lives in the concentration camp weren't already a living hell, these men find that assisting the Nazis in the extermination of other Jews has turned them into the living dead. Realizing they too will soon be exterminated, the group plans to blow up the crematoria with smuggled explosives, and then try to escape. But as they set their plan in motion and plant the explosives, they make a horrific discovery: While removing corpses from a gas chamber, they find a young woman who barely survived the gas. While debating whether to put her out of her misery, or smuggle her to another camp where she may live, they are caught. As the Nazis interrogate them, the girl is killed, and ultimately all but one of the Sonderkommando are put to death. The lone survivor is left to ponder his actions and the value of life for the rest of his days.

The Grey Zone premiered in 1996 and enjoyed an acclaimed run at Manhattan Class Company (MCC) Theater, one of New York's leading off-Broadway theater companies. The author wrote and directed the film adaptation, which was named one of "The 10 greatest second world war films you haven't seen" by The Guardian.

Cast: 1 woman, 7 men

What people say:

"Most work on this subject, alas, is deplorably simple minded and predictable. The Grey Zone is an honorable exception." — New York Daily News

"…it takes courage to write poetry, fiction, or drama about this hardest of subjects. It is to [the author's] considerable credit that his terse, spartan play comes very close to total success." — New York Magazine

"The Grey Zone takes place in the Auschwitz death camp of Poland in the autumn of 1944.
It is the end of the line for everyone there. The inmates know they have only a limited time before they are gassed and cremated; their German captors know that they too are doomed when the advancing armies of the Allies break through their gates.
Tim Blake Nelson's taut drama ... shows what happens in the last few days of these desperate men." — Chicago Tribune

"The play's speed and slim exposition are not just gimmicks, they're keys to the story.... Don't expect any answers. The enormity of the Holocaust is hard to comprehend, especially at the epicenter of evil. That this play is based on the account of the real Dr. Nyiszli, who survived, is even more incomprehensible." — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"As a playwright, Nelson has the good sense to trust the power of his story and stay out of its way; this is a gruesome tale, tautly told." — Pittsburgh City Paper

About the Playwright:

Tim Blake Nelson is an American actor, writer, and director. He is an accomplished character actor who is perhaps best known for his role in O Brother, Where Art Thou as well as his recent work in the Coen Brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His most notable work, The Grey Zone, tackles tough questions about the existence of evil and the meaning of faith.

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