New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

55 Shades of Gay: Balkan Spring of Sexual Revolution

From 6 critic and 21 member reviews
Members say: Confusing, Ambitious, Edgy, Dizzying, Disappointing

About the show

La MaMa presents the US premiere of Kosovo’s Qendra Multimedia in a contemporary burlesque story about LGBTI politics in the Balkans. More…

In the play, a gay couple apply to get married in a conservative, deeply homophobic provincial town. They make their request at a time when an Italian company has begun building a condom manufacturing factory in the town, a project that is financially supported by the European Union. Intellectuals, artists, politicians, religious leaders, and professional grenade launchers try to stop the marriage from happening, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is technically permitted by the country's Constitution, which the Prime Minister signed according to a mandate from the EU. This provocative, politically incorrect performance poses the question: “Is sexual liberation possible in the Balkans?”

Lavender After Dark

"Laugh-out-loud comedy...The play’s universal message of overcoming bigotry and fighting for equality is relevant whether in Kosovo, or…Kentucky!...The play tickles and titillates the audience with its colorful, multi-media mix of bawdy dialogue, music, burlesque, and visual projections– all imbued with naughty but smart humor and a lovingly over-the-top queer sensibility running throughout...A deliciously raunchy, truly unique comedy that’s more relevant than ever in 2019." Full Review


“Costume elements, personifications of inanimate objects, and abstract blocking hark unapologetically back to the 20th-century theatrical avant-garde. But filtered through an unfamiliar culture, the spectacle feels mostly fresh, and all heartfelt. One can only marvel at the effort and dedication that must have gone, first, into creating and mounting this controversial show in Kosovo, then rendering much of it into English and taking it across the ocean...Powerful, semi-operatic curiosity.” Full Review

Reviews Off Broadway

"'55 Shades of Gay' is a fun and frenetic play from Kosovo dealing with the problems when well-meaning outsiders clash with locals over morals, aid money and sexuality. It uses a variety show of ideas, songs and vignettes related to an Italian factory owner who wants to marry a local man. The mayor and Prime Minister realize that the EU approve Constitution allows same gender marriage, despite the locals' objections. A humorous look at imposed values." Full Review

Melinda's Malarky

"Nothing in '55 Shades of Gay' is subtle...The vast artistic creativity onstage is innovative, provocative, and unabashedly electrifying...'55 Shades of Gay' scorches the inane & inhumane obstacles to people loving each other...The play also eloquently touches the heart in its quieter moments. A tree on stage testifies to having born witness to years of homophobic brutality and stands as a reminder there are no innocent bystanders. '55 Shades of Gay' at La Mama must be seen in all its glory." Full Review


"With a running time of 70 minutes, this brisk burlesque-infused play tracks the progress and problems of a male gay couple...Equal parts peep show and politics, the play burns hot (fuchsia) unapologetically...'55 Shades' electrifies what could have been an otherwise important-but-familiar 'fight for your rights' story...At times grim, grotesque but consistently gripping, the show's sights and sounds don't only push the envelope, they lick it." Full Review

Theater Reviews from my Seat

"Equal parts flamboyant exaggeration and furious indignation, '55 Shades of Gay' is a jumble of styles, languages, and music...An interesting piece of theatrical experimentation. The five Kosovar actors, particularly the lovelorn Tristan Halilaj, manage to present nicely drawn characterizations (and cartoons) amidst the grotesquerie and satire. Overall, the performance feels a bit long likely due to repetition in the storytelling." Full Review

Delightful, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You like witty dialogue, good singing, and an international theme.

Don't see it if You’re uptight and uncomfortable with transgender and gay themes.

Enchanting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you like inventive, quick paced with a great cast

Don't see it if you want a play that is clear, this leaves much to your inner mind.

Committed, Experimental, Heartfelt, Burlesque take, 70s agit prop

See it if throwback 2 experimental theatre as it once was, primer on gay rights in Albania, humorous take on imposition of values 2 gain E.U. status

Don't see it if no interest in gay issues, fear supertitles & translation, need polished production values, offended by sexual imagery & issues

Personable, Episodic, Eastern european, Queer, Educational

See it if you are interested in experiencing a theatricalized take on the emergence of queer life in a Balkan country.

Don't see it if you want a play: this is a series of vignettes staged as a floor show.

Also I enjoyed “55 SHADES OF GAY.” It taught me many things about the emerg... Read more Read less

Relevant, Quirky, Dizzying, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you would like a taste of the life faced by those in Eastern European countries in these challenging times. Good acting and singing non-stop

Don't see it if you are bothered reading superscripts to understand what is being said or you find more than an hour on a tight folding chair difficult.

Experimental satire, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Edgy, Great singing

See it if From Kosovo, an experimental satire of same-sex marriage rights w/ singing. The plight of the Albanian homosexual gets short shrift today.

Don't see it if Battalions are sent to Syria, but the social problems of Kosovo are ignored.Some broken english, but Albanian valiant effort w/ superscripts

Great staging, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you support experimental (community) theater with int'l/political lgbt theme. The staging is interesting but the story telling- confusing.

Don't see it if you prefer linear, clear & traditional plots. Also if you just want to be entertained & not to analyze the material or deal w/ lgbt issues.

Relevant, Funny, Great staging, Confusing, Clever

See it if you enjoy stories about LGBTQ rights. You like experimental theatre.

Don't see it if you find it annoying reading subtitles. You don't like plays in another language.

Quirky, Raunchy, Dizzying, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You’re interested in LGBTQ rides in a foreign country and don’t mind reading a superscript to understand the actors

Don't see it if If you have limited interest in the LBGTQ Community or annoyed by reading a superscript

Slow, Edgy, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if Disjointed effort to shed light on gay Kosovo political scene Language is a stumbling block w/poorly illuminated subtitles Cast is spirited

Don't see it if Needs a more powerful dramatic punch than burlesque style can provide Critique of EU's economic leverage good but underdeveloped Finale A+

Confusing, Thought-provoking, Dizzying, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy experimental theatre presenting the LGBTQ POV in the European Union, It ain't all that it looks like. Very poignant but difficult

Don't see it if shows spoken mostly in Albanian or the language of Kosovo with titles that lag and weird staging and effects. It goes over the top

Confusing, Great singing, Indulgent, Edgy, Disappointing

See it if You like experimental theater with a lot of singing. You are interested in stories about gay marriage abroad. Very talented cast.

Don't see it if You like linear stories or a clear plot; you don't like hearing foreign languages. There were a lot of bizarre parts and it was a bit messy.

Dated, Quirky, Intense, Edgy, Ambitious

See it if you loved Vietnam War protest theater. Ironic & loud using absurd actions & statements to make obvious points. Well done for what it is.

Don't see it if any of the above bothers you.

Thought-provoking, Intense, Edgy, Dizzying

See it if You are looking for an intense show with serious themes. At times overwhelming with its consistently depressing themes

Don't see it if Could have used an uplifting or even slightly upbeat scene. The subtitles with offensive phrases got to me by the end of it.

Ambitious, Excruciating, Dizzying, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if Experimental; Albania gay themes; chaos, randomness; colorful sets;

Don't see it if disorder; too much subtitle reading for scenes in Albanian thereby missing the acting (which was subpar); too much smoke; screaming

Intense, Edgy, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if You are interested learning about how difficult gay life is in Kosovo. Or a play that must be shocking beyond belief in Kosovo.

Don't see it if You have difficulty sitting in a cramped folding chair for 70 minutes. dont mind a play requiring subtitles, angry songs, too bright light

Intense, Ambitious, Confusing, Dizzying, Edgy

See it if Experimental, gay, colorful characters, cross dressing, foreign language

Don't see it if Reading Subtitles, poor story flow, accents, avante garde

Disappointing, Funny, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if The show is done in a narrative style and has an interesting point of view about gay repression. There are some funny moments.

Don't see it if The show repeats itself over and over saying the same thing to the point of boredom. I didn’t hate it but I certainly didn’t love it either.

Relevant, Insipid, Bombastic, Heatfelt, Ambitious

See it if to experience a sincere, heartfelt cast and production from Kosovo concerning LGBTQ issues in Kosovo.

Don't see it if Unless it's important for you to experience a radical political play that is an outcry by a severely oppressed LGBTQ population first hand.

Disappointing, Confusing, Slow

See it if I have no idea, I left in the middle

Don't see it if Your English is not perfect The actors speak with the stooong accent, hard to understand

Offensive, Insipid, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if You want to see offensive stereotypes of gay people from a straight white man and straight actors & feel like having your safety threatened

Don't see it if You are part of any marginalized community, especially The Gays

Cast & Creatives (14)