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< WOMEN’S VOICES | Main | ANIMALS, ANIMALS, ANIMALS! >


January 13, 2018

THE HUMAN TOUCH

by Ann Greer


During the performance of  “The Humans” at the Kennedy Center, my gaze kept returning to an element of David Zinn’s spot-on set, a two-story apartment in New York’s Chinatown that has seen better days.  The floor between the stories is cut away, revealing jagged building materials.  It seemed to me to be a metaphor for what transpires onstage, as members of the Blake family, both purposefully and inadvertently, expose their deepest fears.
 


Richard Thomas, Pamela Reed, Daisy Eagan, Luis Vega, Therese Plaehn


Sound heavy?  It is, but there are also many funny moments, just part of what makes Stephen Karam’s “The Humans” such an outstanding play.  It won the 2016 Tony, Obie, and Drama Desk Awards, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, among others.  The Kennedy Center production is part of a national tour.
 


Daisy Eagan and Therese Plaehn


Working class couple Erik (Richard Thomas) and Deirdre (Pamela Reed) Blake has made the snowy trek from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to New York City, to have Thanksgiving dinner with their two daughters, Aimee (Therese Plaehn) and Brigid (Daisy Eagan), and Brigid’s partner Richard (Luis Vega).  The Blakes have brought Erik’s mother Momo (Lauren Klein, from the original Broadway cast), who suffers from dementia.  Over the course of the meal, we learn about career disappointments, financial setbacks, relationship challenges, medical issues, and an incident during 9/11 that continues to haunt Erik.
 


Richard Thomas, Pamela Reed, Daisy Eagan, Luis Vega, Therese Plaehn


We’re also privy to heartwarming traditions similar to those that all families share, from singing a rousing traditional Irish song to making a wish while taking a small hammer to a candy peppermint pig.   It’s the successful mix of the funny and poignant, the raucous and wrenching, that can be difficult to write.  In “The Humans,” Karam hits the bullseye.

 

 

“The Humans” at the Kennedy Center, through January 28.  Tickets: kennedy-center.org or 202-467-4600.

Photos by Julieta Cervantes.

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Ann Greer has covered culture in the DC region for The Washington Post, Capitol File magazine, and WAMU-FM, among others.  She was the first online theater critic in the DC region, for AOL Digital City Washington.




Posted at 8:44 PM

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