The Humans

by Michelle Sandoval

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday June 27, 2018

 L-R: Reed Birney, Cassie Beck, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Sarah Steele and Nick Mills in "The Humans" at the Ahmanson Theatre presented by Center Theatre Group.
L-R: Reed Birney, Cassie Beck, Jayne Houdyshell, Lauren Klein, Sarah Steele and Nick Mills in "The Humans" at the Ahmanson Theatre presented by Center Theatre Group.  

Stephen Karam's award-winning show, "The Humans," finds a home this summer at the Ahmanson Theatre where it plays until July 29. Coming to LA with the original Broadway cast, the phenomenal show offers us a bleak look into a troubled family during Thanksgiving dinner. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most importantly these particular humans will haunt you long after the curtain falls.

Karam describes his play as a family thriller. Inspired by his own personal thoughts of things that were keeping him up at night, "The Humans" explores many fears everyday people face on a day-to-day basis. Poverty, loss of love, failure and sickness are just a few of the fears touched upon in the play. We see the family dynamic stretched to its deep core, all the while touching upon subjects that will leave you distressed.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, we are given an in-depth and personal look into Karam's modern-day masterpiece. Gifted with a cast and crew who knows the work inside and out, there is no better way to experience this outstanding drama.

The entire show takes place in a small New York apartment where we meet the Blake family, who are spending Thanksgiving at their daughter's new apartment. Over the next hour and a half, we will get to meet each Blake family member intimately, which includes father Eric, daughters Amy and Brigid, Brigid's boyfriend Richard, mother Deirdre and grandma Fiona. All unique, special and flawed in their own way, this troubled, yet loving family, will be brought to life before your eyes with a passion and energy that is quite unforgettable. The amazing thing about this seemingly ordinary family is that Karam managed to capture inklings of many of our own family members, and their personal issues will tug at your heartstrings along the way.

Reed Birney plays father Erik, a man as tormented with his dark secrets as he is with the aches and pains of his aging body. There is no question as to why Birney received the biggest honor a theater actor can, this performance earned him a Tony. Dealing with the shortcomings in his life, as well as being plagued with a horrible secret, Birney's performance filled the theater with as much desperate temperament as his character was feeling. The raw emotion displayed on stage would bring anyone to their knees. What an honor to see such a great actor perform in this life-changing role.

Jayne Houdyshell, who plays Deirdre, also was honored with a Tony award for her performance. She plays her character with an underlying sadness that only a woman in her compromising position can do. Trying to mask her despair with occasional comedy only makes her character more real, for haven't we all tried to make light of a bad situation?

The daughters are played by Sarah Steele and Cassie Beck, one a successful lawyer who is riddled with illness, and the other a bratty millennial that perhaps hit a little bit too close to home. Both women are dealing with serious real-world issues that are extremely relatable. These talented actresses seized the essence of the Blake daughters perfectly, equally in times of happiness, anger, or sadness. Be prepared for all of these are emotions to be rushing through you nonstop throughout this show.

Then there is the wonderful Lauren Klein, who shares with us the torture and anguish of an aged woman caught in the throes of dementia. While most of her performance comprises of mutterings and indescribable mumblings, it is when she flies into a frenzy, screaming and kicking, taking fully by the demons of dementia that you are not only hit with how horrible this disease is but also how utterly talented Klein is to paint such a horribly heart-wrenching picture.

"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.

"The Humans" runs through July 29 at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles. For information or tickets, call 213-972-4400 or visit