On Wednesday, June 20, Los Angeles audiences were enveloped in a treat savory enough to satisfy any theatre-goer. “The Humans” by Stephen Karam makes its Los Angeles debut after four Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Scenic Design of a Play (David Zinn), Best Featured Actor in a Play (Reed Birney), and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Jane Houdyshell) in its original Broadway production. In an extremely rare turn, nearly all members of the original Broadway cast have reprised their roles for the Los Angeles engagement.
“The Humans”, to be put simply, lives up to its title. The plot comprises a single evening in the life of the Blake family. Though not completely dysfunctional, the members of the family all display their odds at one another. The play begins with Erik (Birney) and Deidre (Houdyshell) visiting their daughter Brigid (Sarah Steele) for Thanksgiving dinner in lower Manhattan. Brigid has recently moved into a new Chinatown apartment with her boyfriend Richard (Nick Mills). Erik and Deidre are accompanied by Erik’s Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, who is referred to by her grandchildren as “Momo” (Lauren Kline). Erik and Deidre’s eldest daughter Aimee (Cassie Beck) is also in tow, breaking the news to everyone that she’s just been let go by her law firm. As the evening progresses, the family discuss life, relationships, and even end up revealing deeply personal secrets to each other.
Stephen Karam’s script brilliantly captures the essence of a blue collar working class family, but the true star of the show is it’s remarkable cast. It’s easy to say that Birney and Houdyshell more than earned their Tonys, and Steele, Mills, and Beck are all terrific as well, but there is one particular moment in the show in which Lauren Klein displays some of the truest, untamed, heart-wrenching acting I have ever seen performed on stage.
Joe Mantello’s spectacular direction as well as David Zinn’s simple, but beautiful set are just the icing on the cake for what is the must-see event of the season. “The Humans” is running through July 29th at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at centertheatregroup.org
Written by: Travis Hayward