Fringe of Humanity

By Andrew Andrews

Director Nick Valdez (Paul Calderon) tries to reason with producer Ross Gausmann (David Zayas) in Primitive Graces "Fringe of Humanity." Photo courtesy D. Zayas Jr.

New York City officially loves the movie industry. Lest you forget, there will be an ad from the mayor’s office promoting some production the next time you board a subway car, or “no parking” signs for some film shoot around the corner from your apartment to remind you. But that’s not to say that everyone in the business is lovable: take, for example, the difficult director who long ago sold his soul to feed his drug addiction, the producer with an ego exponentially larger than his bank account, or the actors that are a little bit too full of themselves. Now, one could argue that every workplace has it’s share of difficult people—during a recent trip to IKEA, one “team member” complained about a second who “thinks she owns the place” while a third employee melodramatized that she was going to pass out from exhaustion if she didn’t get her break soon. But they say that a playwright should write what he knows, and actor/director Paul Calderon knows this industry, and what might happen if you throw a collection of its worst characters into an unstable environment at just the wrong time. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Primitive Grace’s Fringe of Humanity.

Newly arrived in “the capital city of a lawless third world country,” David Zayas plays Ross Gausmann, the aforementioned producer who needs this film to save him from bankruptcy. William Rothlein is Ken “Patch” Kelly, the D.P. who’s going to blow his top if they don’t start location scouting yesterday. Rebecca Nyahay is the aging actress who recently tied the knot with Gausmann because it was about time to pop out a few babies before her eggs dry up. Jakob Von Eichel, Luke Smith and Alex Emanuel are the talent, all of whom spin from having each others’ backs to stabbing them at the drop of a hat. Feliz Ramirez and Jessica Damouni round out the cast as wanna-be starlets who can’t recite their lines until the scene has been properly set—even if they’re only reading the script to work out the kinks and bubbles.

Calderon himself stars as Nick Valdez, the aging director recovering from a heroin addiction who just wants to get through the shooting. He’s the coolest head in the entire crew, which is like saying that the pit viper is the least poisonous of all of the poisonous snakes. Still, he’s a likable protagonist—if only thanks to his nihilism.

Fringe of Humanity is the kind of story that provides a different experience to different members of the audience. The drama queen will be waiting anxiously for the shit to hit the fan. The satirist will be shaking his head at the absurdity. And if you’re in show business—or sooooo finished with it!—the characters will strike close enough to home to make you howl at the caricatures.

Photo by David Zayas, Jr. 4

Andrew Andrews attended Fringe of Humanity at Access Theater in Manhattan on Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 8:00pm to write this review.