The Humans takes place at Thanksgiving dinner, with the Irish Catholic Blake family gathering at daughter Brigid and her boyfriend Rich's new place in Chinatown. Mom Deirdre and Dad Erik have driven in from Scranton in a snowstorm, with elderly grandma Momo, suffering from severe dementia, in tow. Other daughter Aimee, dealing with career, health, and relationship crises, rounds out this little family of six. The play is filled with the typical family jokes, reminiscing, and spilling of secrets. The big spill comes near the end of the play, when Erik finally tells his daughters the bad news that's been hinted at (which is bad, but not as bad as I feared). There's no resolution after that, the dinner ends, and everyone goes home. This is a slice of life in the long story of the Blake family, a life that has existed before and will continue to go on. But one gets the sense that this will be a Thanksgiving they'll never forget.*
|the Blake family around the Thanksgiving table
(photo by Dan Norman)
|John Middleton, Angela Timberman, Charity Jones,
Dexieng "Dae" Yang, and Laura Anderson
(photo by Dan Norman)
The set is almost a seventh character in the play; much is said about Brigid and Rich's basement apartment, with it's lack of light, noisy neighbors, spiral staircase, and multiple entrances. Erik Paulson's set fits the bill and then some, with a large barred window upstairs, a basement that looks like a basement, several different sitting areas, with everything visible at all times, even what's inside the floor between stories (tip: don't sit in the first couple rows). Lights go on and off, strange noises interrupt the scenes, all placing us right there in that apartment (sound design by Katharine Horowitz, lighting design by Karin Olson). Matthew LeFebvre's costumes are very specific to each character, from Mom's suburban cardigan, to Aimee's slick leather jacket, to Brigid's hip dress, to Rich's neat vest.
The aptly titled The Humans shows us the humanity in one specific family during one ordinary and extraordinary Thanksgiving dinner, in a way that cuts to the very soul of the audience and shows us our own humanity. The painfully real portrayal of a loving but complicated family, comprised of loving but flawed humans, is beautifully realized by this local cast and creative team. Continuing Thursdays through Sundays through October 9 at Park Square Theatre.