A Touching Look At The Humans
A family dinner is most revealing about an average family who exhibits some familiar problems
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IN playwright Stephen Karam’s masterpiece, The Humans, there is so much for theatergoers to relate to as activities and dialogue on stage reflect a certain sameness that’s evident at their homes.
It’s about real life, real people, real situations––a contemporary comedy-drama that’s all about many of the things families experience. Early on at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Erik (Richard Thomas) gives observers a sense of his family’s intensifying struggles and disappointments, saying: “Don’tcha think it should cost less to be alive?”
Erik is the award-winning actor Richard Thomas, the patriarch of the Blake family, who, like so many other lower-middle-class families, is a financially challenged group, but each member is confronted by their own individual troubles––aging, illness, failing relationships and an economy that’s changing for the worst. It’s all brought to the forefront by a skillful ensemble cast, delivering performances that are solid and memorable, thanks to the multiple talents of Thomas, Pamela Reed (Deidre), Daisy Eagan (Brigid), Lauren Klein (Momo), Therese Plaehn (Aimee) and Luis Vega (Richard).
In Karam’s insightful play, which won four Tony Awards in 2016 (including “The Best Play of The Year”) and is touring the country after its Broadway run, the Blake family’s secrets are exposed during a somewhat contentious family gathering. In an effort to do something different on Thanksgiving, Erik Blake has broken tradition and brought his Scranton, Pa., family to observe the holiday and give thanks at his daughter Brigid’s new Manhattan duplex apartment that she shares with boyfriend Richard. New York is not one of Erik’s favorite spots and his dislike is heightened when the upstairs neighbor continues to drop things on the floor, creating booming noises similar to those at a construction site.
As the evening unfolds, we get to know the entire Blake family better. Erik and Deidre have worked longtime jobs that provided their middle class status––he as a maintenance engineer at a private school for nearly 30 years, and his wife has been an office manager at the same business for an even longer period. They continue to take care of Erik’s mother, Momo, who has Alzheimer’s disease and is wheelchair-bound. Daughters Brigid and Aimee have a typical sisterly relationship, but they are different in many ways and have their own challenges. Aimee is a Philadelphia lawyer suffering from ulcerative colitis and is about to be laid off, just after a breakup with her longtime girlfriend. Bartender Brigid, still trying to clear her college debt, is an aspiring composer. Her boyfriend Richard is about to receive a master’s degree in social work, and things are looking up because he will be able to dip into his trust fund in two years.
The current presentation of The Humans represents a return to Chicago, where its world premiere was unveiled at the American Theater Company in November 2014 and was directed by PJ Paparelli. The national tour, which is unusual for a stage production that’s not a musical, is under the leadership of Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello, who also directed the Broadway shows. The entire creative team, in fact, from the Broadway production is on hand, including Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Zinn, costume designer Sarah Laux, lighting designer Justin Townsend and sound designer Fitz Patton. The tour, which began in Seattle, will move on to Cleveland, Dallas and finally Los Angeles.
It’s widely agreed that with this play Karam found an effective way to tell an important story through the complicated lives of a believable family, a family encountering situations that mirror those of real-life families who feel that the American dream is slipping right through their hands. Audiences have embraced it enthusiastically. That’s why it’s clear to see why the awards for The Humans just kept coming and coming in 2016.
“I’ll tell you, Rich, save your money now … I thought I’d be settled by my age, you know, but man, it never ends … mortgage, car payments, Internet, our dishwasher just gave out.”
–– Richard Thomas as "Erik Blake"
Individual tickets for The Humans range from $25 -$98. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago box offices (24 W. Randolph Steet, 151 W. Randolph Street, 18 W. Monroe Street and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.
The national touring cast of The Humans includes (left to right) Richard Thomas, Therese Plaehn, Pamela Reed, Daisy Eagan and Luis Vega.
National Tour Stops For
List Of Awards For The Human's As Best Play In 2016
New York Drama Critics Award
Drama Desk Award
Outer Critics Circle Award
Drama League Award