THE HUMANS

Critics

LemonMeter

87 %

Reviews: 15

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 1

Thu Aug 22, 12:00am

Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell reprise their Tony Award®-winning performances in The Humans, exclusively at the Ahmanson. Stephen Karam's The Humans is an uproarious, hopeful, and heartbreaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter's apartment in Lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the Blake clan's deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed, with humor and compassion, in this new American classic that won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play. Led by two-time Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello, the cast also includes previous Broadway company members Cassie Beck, Lauren Klein, Nick Mills, and Sarah Steele.

Reviews

Frances Baum Nicholson
"Director Joe Mantello choreographs the thing as much as directs it, using David Zinn's two-tiered set with real finesse. The sense of family, of separation and togetherness, of tension and softening, ebb and flow as such a gathering does. A nod also to Fitz Patton's sound design, creating as it does the character of an upstairs neighbor we essentially never even see, but whose presence proves startlingly intrusive at oddly apt moments. “The Humans” is fine, fine theater."

sweet - Frances Baum Nicholson, Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
"Mr. Karam has written a painfully funny, deeply troubling look into a family at an inflection point - at just that moment when things may change forever. The forces at play, like the noise from the upstairs neighbor, feel larger than life and ominous. They are forces you'll recognize, they're human... I want to tell you to buy a ticket to this play right now but I also need to tell you to buy a ticket up front because the Ahmanson is a less than ideal theater for this play."

sweet - Anthony Byrnes, KCRW 89.9 FM - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"They are ordinary everyday problems that the writer seeks to heighten with his mysterious foreshadowing. At times Mantello's direction promises to take the play in an eerie (and more interesting) direction but never follows through. The cast is fine but you just wish they had a better script to work from."

sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar
"There have been hundreds of plays written about family dynamics, sometimes even set, as this one is, in an apartment around a dinner table. This play is a notch above the pack, and it is notable for its naturalistic style and dialogue that packs a subtle punch. It is utterly believable, sympathetic, and its humor guarantees that it will be a theatrical staple illuminating the human condition"

sweet - Melinda Schupmann - ShowMag - ...read full review


Avatar
"What is transcendent about The Humans is the care and precision with which characters and situations are rendered on paper, and the grace with which director Joe Mantello stages the show. Every casual-seeming detail is a meaningful part of a living whole, of a world so natural, so flawless and complete — thanks in no small part to the outstanding cast — that it looks spontaneous, effortless, as though it just materialized before us of its own accord."

sweet - Tony Frankel - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar
"Do we simply call it a study of 21stcentury alienation and settle for that? Many audiences will, but that's not good enough. We don't need pat or even specific answers. What we need is depth and provocation. And there isn't much of either to be found."

sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Joe Mantello has done an excellent job of weaving comedy into catastrophe and heartbreak in this true-to-life tale. The professional ensemble cast do splendid, spot-on portrayals of this troubled but also unwittingly funny family. Get ready to laugh, perhaps while wiping away a few tears, as you enter into the world of the Blakes."

sweet - Elaine L. Mura - Splash Magazine - ...read full review


Avatar
"Joe Mantello's acute direction keeps the action moving at a fast clip, while at the same time, insuring that everything we see on that stage is authentic with no “dead spots” in the action."

sweet - Beverly Cohn - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar
"You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most importantly these particular humans will haunt you long after the curtain falls. ..."The Humans" is one show you definitely don't want to miss. Family can be complicated, and life itself even more, and while theatre is always almost an escape from our troubles, this is one production that will bring you face to face with our uncomfortable reality."

sweet - Michelle Sandoval - Edge Media Network - ...read full review


Joan Alperin
"This is the story of a family who, despite their struggles, love each other and are trying to keep it together while they move beyond their past mistakes. After all, that's what it is to be human. The set designed by David Zinn is incredible. Brigid and Richard's apartment is a duplex, and the action takes place on both levels. Director Joe Mantello did a brilliant job with these extraordinary actors."

sweet - Joan Alperin - The Los Angeles Beat - ...read full review


Avatar
"A moving examination of the intimacy that ties a family together, whether through personal injury, societal collapse, or supernatural influences unseen. Impeccable performances, direction, and writing--not poetic, but profound. The issues examined will stay with you for days."

sweet - VR Marianne Zahn


Don Grigware
"A tour.de.force kitchen sink reality dramedy, laced with lots of real honest.to.goodness humor, about topical issues that everyone can relate to."

sweet - Don Grigware - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"Karam's characters are all remarkably well-drawn, and you almost immediately get a sense of their various personalities and dynamics. To capture decades of a family history in such a short time is no easy feat, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Blakes is just how normal they are. The dialogue is quick and sharp, incorporating both biting humor and moments of deep sadness."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"What happens when life unravels along with our expectations of it, what becomes of dreams unfulfilled, careers in retreat, the majority of us flawed human beings who don't make it to the top in our reputed meritocracy? One misstep, one patch of illness, can spell The End. Can't there be a decent place for everyone? In a more centrally planned economy, maybe Brigid could be offered work writing music for community theatre and gain some valuable experience. The system chews people up, much like the loud bone-crushing commercial compactor in the building that goes off periodically in the play. As the classic Joe Glazer song says, “Who will take care of you, how'll you get by? when you're too old to work and you're too young to die.” The late great gay politician Harvey Milk, running for office in San Francisco, used to say, “You gotta give 'em hope.” Even the most stolid of the old socialist realists agreed with that. The Humans is too sophisticated a work of art to be obviously prescriptive. Still, leaving the theatre, what are audiences supposed to think? That we humans are speeding to hell in a handbasket? Maybe just zeroing in on the problems of an inhumane society is enough to stir the conscience."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"As its title might suggest, one need merely be human to recognize oneself at least somewhere among the characters of Stephen Karam's latest (and greatest) play. Funny, thought-provoking, heartbreaking, button-pushing, and unsettling, The Humans is an early-summer must-see."

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder
"Stephen Karam's troubled Blake family is the quintessential descendant of those classic American theatrical families created in the fertile minds of misters O'Neill, Miller, and Letts. Karam's contribution to theatrical history was a perfect choice for Pulitzer consideration because the play chronicles exactly who we are in this country at this particular juncture in time: a people more and more disenfranchised and discouraged with our crumpling society and the death of the proverbial American Dream."

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Frances Baum Nicholson
"Director Joe Mantello choreographs the thing as much as directs it, using David Zinn's two-tiered set with real finesse. The sense of family, of separation and togetherness, of tension and softening, ebb and flow as such a gathering does. A nod also to Fitz Patton's sound design, creating as it does the character of an upstairs neighbor we essentially never even see, but whose presence proves startlingly intrusive at oddly apt moments. “The Humans” is fine, fine theater."

sweet - Frances Baum Nicholson, Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
"Mr. Karam has written a painfully funny, deeply troubling look into a family at an inflection point - at just that moment when things may change forever. The forces at play, like the noise from the upstairs neighbor, feel larger than life and ominous. They are forces you'll recognize, they're human... I want to tell you to buy a ticket to this play right now but I also need to tell you to buy a ticket up front because the Ahmanson is a less than ideal theater for this play."

sweet - Anthony Byrnes, KCRW 89.9 FM - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"They are ordinary everyday problems that the writer seeks to heighten with his mysterious foreshadowing. At times Mantello's direction promises to take the play in an eerie (and more interesting) direction but never follows through. The cast is fine but you just wish they had a better script to work from."

sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar
"There have been hundreds of plays written about family dynamics, sometimes even set, as this one is, in an apartment around a dinner table. This play is a notch above the pack, and it is notable for its naturalistic style and dialogue that packs a subtle punch. It is utterly believable, sympathetic, and its humor guarantees that it will be a theatrical staple illuminating the human condition"

sweet - Melinda Schupmann - ShowMag - ...read full review


Avatar
"What is transcendent about The Humans is the care and precision with which characters and situations are rendered on paper, and the grace with which director Joe Mantello stages the show. Every casual-seeming detail is a meaningful part of a living whole, of a world so natural, so flawless and complete — thanks in no small part to the outstanding cast — that it looks spontaneous, effortless, as though it just materialized before us of its own accord."

sweet - Tony Frankel - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar
"Do we simply call it a study of 21stcentury alienation and settle for that? Many audiences will, but that's not good enough. We don't need pat or even specific answers. What we need is depth and provocation. And there isn't much of either to be found."

sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Joe Mantello has done an excellent job of weaving comedy into catastrophe and heartbreak in this true-to-life tale. The professional ensemble cast do splendid, spot-on portrayals of this troubled but also unwittingly funny family. Get ready to laugh, perhaps while wiping away a few tears, as you enter into the world of the Blakes."

sweet - Elaine L. Mura - Splash Magazine - ...read full review


Avatar
"Joe Mantello's acute direction keeps the action moving at a fast clip, while at the same time, insuring that everything we see on that stage is authentic with no “dead spots” in the action."

sweet - Beverly Cohn - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar
"You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most importantly these particular humans will haunt you long after the curtain falls. ..."The Humans" is one show you definitely don't want to miss. Family can be complicated, and life itself even more, and while theatre is always almost an escape from our troubles, this is one production that will bring you face to face with our uncomfortable reality."

sweet - Michelle Sandoval - Edge Media Network - ...read full review


Joan Alperin
"This is the story of a family who, despite their struggles, love each other and are trying to keep it together while they move beyond their past mistakes. After all, that's what it is to be human. The set designed by David Zinn is incredible. Brigid and Richard's apartment is a duplex, and the action takes place on both levels. Director Joe Mantello did a brilliant job with these extraordinary actors."

sweet - Joan Alperin - The Los Angeles Beat - ...read full review


Don Grigware
"A tour.de.force kitchen sink reality dramedy, laced with lots of real honest.to.goodness humor, about topical issues that everyone can relate to."

sweet - Don Grigware - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"Karam's characters are all remarkably well-drawn, and you almost immediately get a sense of their various personalities and dynamics. To capture decades of a family history in such a short time is no easy feat, and perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Blakes is just how normal they are. The dialogue is quick and sharp, incorporating both biting humor and moments of deep sadness."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"What happens when life unravels along with our expectations of it, what becomes of dreams unfulfilled, careers in retreat, the majority of us flawed human beings who don't make it to the top in our reputed meritocracy? One misstep, one patch of illness, can spell The End. Can't there be a decent place for everyone? In a more centrally planned economy, maybe Brigid could be offered work writing music for community theatre and gain some valuable experience. The system chews people up, much like the loud bone-crushing commercial compactor in the building that goes off periodically in the play. As the classic Joe Glazer song says, “Who will take care of you, how'll you get by? when you're too old to work and you're too young to die.” The late great gay politician Harvey Milk, running for office in San Francisco, used to say, “You gotta give 'em hope.” Even the most stolid of the old socialist realists agreed with that. The Humans is too sophisticated a work of art to be obviously prescriptive. Still, leaving the theatre, what are audiences supposed to think? That we humans are speeding to hell in a handbasket? Maybe just zeroing in on the problems of an inhumane society is enough to stir the conscience."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"As its title might suggest, one need merely be human to recognize oneself at least somewhere among the characters of Stephen Karam's latest (and greatest) play. Funny, thought-provoking, heartbreaking, button-pushing, and unsettling, The Humans is an early-summer must-see."

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder
"Stephen Karam's troubled Blake family is the quintessential descendant of those classic American theatrical families created in the fertile minds of misters O'Neill, Miller, and Letts. Karam's contribution to theatrical history was a perfect choice for Pulitzer consideration because the play chronicles exactly who we are in this country at this particular juncture in time: a people more and more disenfranchised and discouraged with our crumpling society and the death of the proverbial American Dream."

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Avatar
"A moving examination of the intimacy that ties a family together, whether through personal injury, societal collapse, or supernatural influences unseen. Impeccable performances, direction, and writing--not poetic, but profound. The issues examined will stay with you for days."

sweet - VR Marianne Zahn