Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Fringe of Humanity is Right!

By Kaila M. Stokes

Fringe of Humanity produced by Primitive Grace Theater Ensemble and written by Paul Calderon is a stressful tale of chaos chalk-full of characters that are mentally unstable. The concept is that a movie is being produced and readings for this movie are taking place in a hotel room. As each character enters it disrupts the balance in the room, until finally chaos fully ignites the hotel and the characters.
The director of the film, Nick played by Paul Calderon, is the only character trying to keep some sanity in the room. He is an ex-drug addict that is trying to just mend his ways and make some money, but these people are not making it easy. His partner in crime is Ken, played by William Rothlein, a veteran of some war with a grumpy disposition. Nick is just trying to make his producer happy. His producer is Ross Gausmann, played by David Zayaz. He is a sleazy guy clearly with an addiction to blow and his own ego. The other cast of characters literally make up the cast of the movie; Ryan is trying secure his part in the play (played by Alex Emanuel), Pierce wants to learn Spanish for his character which does not make sense for the script (played by Luke Smith), Chrissy and Vicky are slightly more than hookers looking for their big break (played by Feliz Ramirez & Jessica Damouni), and Steve started out sane but slowly lets his own ego take over causing even more insanity (played by Jakob Von Eichel). The most interesting, yet less flushed out of a character was Liz Gausmann (played by Rebecca Nyahay), Ron’s wife who is ultimately the cause of the volcanic eruption at the end.
photo by David Zayas Jr.
The play started out with high tensions and a lot of swearing and yelling. From there, the yelling really never stopped. The actors had nowhere to go because they started at a place of unrealistic tension. The audience had no idea why everyone was so upset off the bat. The play tried to explain it throughout, but the first half hour consisted of the audience wondering why everyone was so angry. The story is very interesting and the ending was meaningful, but it was hard to care after the first thirty minutes due to the yelling. In this case, the actors seemed to have a nice grasp on their characters and their back stories. Certainly each actor performed honestly, but the direction given to them seemed like it did not have enough faith in the writing. Instead of relying on this interesting story and the words/circumstances on the page, it was directed as though the audience would not understand these “complex plots” unless they were being yelled to them. Trust your audience.
The premise of Fringe of Humanity is very interesting and has many great things happening in it. If it could just find a way to ease into the crazy, it would be even more compelling to watch. The audience would get drawn into the crazy with the characters instead of having everything shoved in their face. It would be worth it to see this again in its next draft or production to see the changes made and problems flushed out a bit more.

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