Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Humans
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of On Your Feet!


(clockwise from front) Therese Plaehn, Richard
Thomas, Pamela Reed, Daisy Eagan, and Luis Vega

Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Stephen Karam's The Humans, winner of the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play, is a masterful examination of unease—on both the conscious and subconscious levels—among members of a family. It's universal in scope without losing its specificity, and the genuine laughs blend with the existential angst.

While the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington might seem too large a space for this intimate comic drama, the five actors and director Joe Mantello make it work, assisted by David Zinn's lavishly detailed two-level set.

Erik Blake (Richard Thomas) and his wife Dierdre (Pamela Reed) have driven from their home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to New York City's Chinatown, where their daughter Brigid (Daisy Eagan) and her boyfriend Richard (Luis Vega) are hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Also in attendance are Brigid's sister Aimee (Therese Plaehn) and Erik's mother Momo (Lauren Klein), who has Alzheimer's disease and uses a wheelchair.

The concerns at first center around money and security. Erik worries about Brigid and Richard living in a two-story apartment (ground floor and basement) that was underwater during Hurricane Sandy. Brigid, an aspiring musician who mostly tends bar, and Richard, a graduate student in social work, explain that this apartment was roomy and what they could afford, so they cope with the roar of the washer and dryer in the basement hallway and the loud banging from overhead.

Everyone has an issue here, which is why the characters say things like "Don't you think it should cost less to be alive?" and "We're doing OK, aren't we?" Aimee, a lawyer, is dealing with both the end of a relationship and serious health concerns, while Dierdre describes finding satisfaction in helping poor refugees find a home in Scranton. Momo has some lucid moments, but she also provides an unsettling look into the future.

Mantello is working with a cast of all-stars, from Thomas' anguished gravitas and Eagan's barely submerged resentment to Klein's total immersion in her role (she's the only member of the New York cast in the tour).

Kennedy Center
The Humans
January 9th - January 28th, 2018
By Stephen Karam
Erik Blake: Richard Thomas
Aimee Blake: Therese Plaehn
Brigid Blake: Daisy Eagan
Dierdre Blake: Pamela Reed
Fiona "Momo" Blake: Lauren Klein
Richard Saad: Luis Vega
Directed by Joe Mantello
Eisenhower Theater, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or www.kennedy-center.org
For more information on the tour, visit www.thehumansonbroadway.com.


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