The Loft Ensemble proudly announced its second production this season, the world premiere of MASS GRAVES. Penned by Chris Eli Blak and directed by Matt Lorenzo, this intense production will be offered for only 12 performance in October 2022.
MASS GRAVES chronicles the fate of a small group of prison parolees living in a halfway house. Each of these men has his own demons – often amplified by a heavy drug habit. These are men who are not accustomed to opening up their secrets and fears for everyone to see: better to suffer in silence and present a tough face to the world. Now they find themselves in a residential facility run by Seth (Les “Elijay” Jennings), an ex-con himself who has devoted himself to making a difference – if these closed-down guys will only let him. Secrets begin to trickle out as men like Ryder (Jemeryas Jordan), Eddie (Tor Brown), and Osmundo (Esteban Vasquez) momentarily peek out from their self-erected walls. And in the middle of it all is Key (Antwan Alexander II), who pops in and out of treatment and often finds himself as the holder of the group’s undisclosed and very private stories.
MASS GRAVES is a powerful, well-written tale of lonely, driven, and desperate people who must face some hard truths if they are to break the ruts they are in and grow and mature. Some of these men may be up to the daunting task – and some may not. Kudos to Jennings, Brown, Vasquez, and Alexander, who wear their complicated roles with ease. Kudos too for the production staff (a few who also double as actors in the play) who make excellent use of the limited space they are given. Mitch Rosander’s scenic design is clever and creative, and he makes do with the minimum of fuss and bother. Tor Brown’s lighting and sound help carry the story along to its ambiguous conclusion.
MASS GRAVES is both enlightening and depressing as it tackles life on a raw and realistic level. Its strength is character development as each man’s story tumbles out for the audience to chew on. Unfortunately, the story and the performances can be uneven. Nonetheless, MASS GRAVES never fails to be interesting and even intriguing.
MASS GRAVES runs through October 23, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The Loft Ensemble performs in Sawyer’s Playhouse, located at 11031 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood, CA 91602. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can. For information and reservations, call 818-452-3253 or go online.