Written by Los Angeles-based Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm, GRAY PEOPLE is a character study of three people during a particularly harrowing night of work. I was excited to attend the extension after having been so impressed by Sebastian Muñoz (director) and Force of Nature Production’s Fallen Saints last fall.
The scene opens in an isolated forest and drops us right in the middle of the tension. We’re introduced to Adam (Kyle Felts), Jenny (Olivia Lemmon) and James (Walter Kartman). Adam is a strong, stern, middle-aged man and James is younger, eager, and simple-minded. The two have been working together five years, for a man called Z, in the business of burying bodies. Jenny is the new girl. A young, pretty woman that, although dressed the part, doesn’t seem suited to be a gravedigger.
The plan is the same as any other night. They drive, dig and wait for a fresh load of corpses. But they’d never met or been on assignment with Jenny before, and the situation has everyone on edge. As the three continue to wait, we follow them through bouts of awkward silence, various quarrels, laugh out loud quips, and even a couple rounds of a children’s game called ‘dreamworld’ that James persuades them to play. Despite Adam’s attempted enforcement of his rule to not disclose any personal information to each other, all three slip up on various occasions. Thusly, no one knows what to believe about the other, and the strain is magnified.
A favorite moment for me was when the meaning of the title was divulged during a conversation between Jenny and James (especially since a couple of us were speculating going into it that the ‘gray people’ might be aliens). Essentially the ‘gray people’ are the people you should be worried about. They’re neither black nor white in character, and you never know what they will do, or what they are capable of. That to me was a very interesting perspective on the human race and I was still thinking about it during my drive home. This concept also propelled us into the final scenes.
Realizing the shipment is delayed more than usual, Adam becomes increasingly suspicious of Jenny, convinced that she has been sent by Z to end them both. At this point, the three are at each other’s throats. Eventually, their continuing arguments burst into violence, and startling information about both of the men, and Jenny’s real identity is unveiled.
The runtime of 82 minutes (with no intermission) flew past and while I was very satisfied with the conclusion, I left thinking that I could have still spent longer with these characters. They were well developed through the writing and portrayal. Some of the dialogue could be considered silly but I would argue that the laughs were needed to break up such a dark story. Between the strong performances and direction, detailed sets and warm, friendly staff and crew, Force of Nature Productions truly knows how to pull together an enjoyable evening. I would definitely recommend catching one of their final two performances of the GRAY PEOPLE extension on January 31st or February 7th.
Tickets available at www.fonprods.tix.com