Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review of The Humans at American Theater Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Humans. It was written by Stephen Karam, and it was directed by PJ Paparelli. It was about a family who comes together for Thanksgiving and decides it is a great time to reveal all their secrets! Then, of course, that is not exactly the best idea because they are supposed to be thankful for what they have, but if they are just talking about all the bad things in their lives it doesn't make it a very happy event. I really really liked this show, and I thought it was a great idea. You wouldn't really want to see a really happy Thanksgiving on stage because that would probably be pretty boring. You want to have some tension in a show, but you don't want to have tension in your own Thanksgiving. Seeing this play makes me thankful that I don't have a family with a lot of scary secrets.

The people in the family are the mom (Hanna Dworkin) and dad (Keith Kupferer), and there is an old grandma named Momo (Jean Moran). Aimee (Sadieh Rifai) was the older sister. Brigid (Kelly O'Sullivan) was the youngest sister and it takes place at her apartment. She also had a boyfriend whose name was Richard (Lance Baker). The place that they are in is an apartment in New York and it looks pretty cheap. It has two floors, and that is a good thing. I liked how the set (by David Ferguson) made the two floors look really real and how they made it look like an actual house. It was kind of dirty and you could see the uneven splotches and stuff on the walls. That showed that Brigid didn't have the best life possible. I thought the sound effects (design by Patrick Bley) were also pretty cool because they were super funny. They were super loud; it was like the lady upstairs was throwing pots and pans on the floor. Usually the parents live out in a quieter country place, so they are like, "Why are they so noisy?!" And then they say, "Oh, she'll quiet down" but then she never does.

One of my favorite parts was when the mom and both the daughters were just putting up this lantern so they could see because the lights had gone out, and once they got it working they saw a cockroach. The noise they made was just hilarious. That told me what the women were like. They weren't fainting on the ground or anything, but they were still pretty scared. Then the men had to rush up because they wanted to see what was going wrong, but then, because everyone was gone downstairs, the grandma was going and trying to cook something. That is a problem because she can't really function very well. I think that was a great use of what you can do in a show where you can have two things happening at once, but the audience will still see what is going on in both places. When you see the grandma getting off the couch you are like, "Oh no!"

I thought that all the crazy dreams that Richard was having were pretty funny. Like how he fell through an ice cream cone made out of grass and turned into an infant, which I think is probably one of the strangest dreams I ever heard of. But he also just came out and said it like this was just like a normal topic. I thought that was funny because that is such an unusual thing to say. There were also more scary dreams, like the one where the dad had a dream about a woman with no face, and there was this skin over everything, but it was all stretched. I have actually had dreams like that, so I thought it was cool. You sort of find out what that means later in the play, but I can't tell you that because I don't want to give it away.

I really liked the tradition of the peppermint pig. I want one myself! It showed me that the family had very strong traditions because it seemed like they always did that. The pig reminded them of what they were thankful for and also that they were a family. They actually need that reminder because sometimes they feel like they are not actually a family anymore because they don't live in the exact same place anymore and they have different religions and they didn't like the same topics of conversation. They didn't like some of the same things to eat. After they break the pig, you feel really sorry for the family when the big secret gets revealed at the end. But you have to go to the show to find out what it is!

People who would like this show are people who like family, Thanksgiving, and peppermint pigs. I think people should definitely go see this show. It was an amazing play. It made me think a lot about my family and what might happen to it. This is a very serious play but they still find ways to make it funny. The characters always seemed to say what a real person would say in that kind of situation, and I thought that that was great writing!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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