by Irene Morse
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
The final production in the Visalia Players 62nd Season is The Humans. If you are a fan, as I am, of the novel The Humans by Matt Haig, it will be understandable that you are excited about this play. If you are a fan of the British TV series The Humans, you will probably get excited all over again.
But wait, while these three forms of entertainment all have the same title, they are different stories. What they have in common is – well, Humans. The human condition, human relationships, human foibles, or what director, Donny Graham says, “Life Happens.”
The one-act play, written by Stephen Karam, opened on Broadway in 2016. The Humans won the Tony for Best Play in that year.
While the humans in the TV drama struggle with their relationship to the anthropomorphic Synths and an extra-terrestrial visitor from a utopian planet forges an unexpected bond with the humans in the book, these humans are the ones we know. The humans in this play that Charles Isherwood proclaimed the “finest new play of the Broadway season…” might even be us.
These humans are a family, bonded by love, and also by all of the irritations, quirks, and aggravating personalities that show up in all families. Headed by parents, Erik and Deidre Blake, portrayed by Keith Lindersmith and Nancy Holley, the family has gathered together to share a Thanksgiving dinner in the strange apartment, filled with eerie, unexplainable things, of their daughter and her partner.
Brigid Blake is played by Christina Enquist, her partner, Richard Saad, by Aaron Johnson. The remainder of the family are another daughter, Aimee Blake, portrayed by Marisela Ramos, and the Blake matriarch, Momo, depicted by Robin Hoffman.
As the evening wears on, Momo, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, becomes difficult. Aimee’s newly developed intestinal ailment may have something to do with a recent unhappy breakup. Erik and Deidre struggle to keep the family unit intact, while holding on to some semblance of their Irish-American Thanksgiving tradition. Brigid and Richard go about trying to serve a lovely meal while attempting to ignore the increasingly unsettling and terrifying manner in which their apartment is behaving.
In the words of Jesse Green, in the New York Magazine, “…for all this, the play is rackingly funny even as it pummels the heart and scares the bejesus out of you.”
Chris Jones, in the Chicago Tribune, writes that while Playwright Karam never “romanticizes his characters nor minimized the struggles of those who find themselves in lower-middle class and older in years … he focuses on their connections with each other. You watch them drive each other crazy, but you also want them at your own dinner, quite badly. You’ll be surprised how much.”
“Although the play has no ‘clean’ ending,” he states, “the audience will not miss it.” They will know that it is about “enjoying what you’ve got – all you have – and needs no interpretation.”
Graham is particularly proud of this production which he states is very high quality. He believes his cast is exceedingly talented. He is proud, too, of the interesting and lovely set which was designed by Lindersmith.
Audience members who might have thought they were coming to the play based on Haig’s book, or perhaps based on the British TV show, will not be disappointed by the Pulitzer Prize nominated play. On the contrary, Graham is confident audiences will be hugely entertained.
The Humans opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 7, 2019 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 6/8, 6/14, 6/15, 6/21, and 6/22 and matinees at 2 p.m. on 6/9, 6/16, and 6/23.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!
To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLHUM in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.