The Humans is like Death of a Salesman (with more laughs, plus the potential of monsters)

At Thanksgiving dinner, the character Aimee lets her family have it in The Humans.

Aimee (Briana Buckmaster) lets her family have it in The Humans. (Photo by David Cooper)

The Humans is the real thing. Scripts like this are why I go to the theatre.

Playwright Stephen Karam starts with a standard set-up: the Blake family gathers for Thanksgiving dinner. Young-adult daughter Brigid has just moved into an apartment in New York’s Chinatown with her older partner Richard. Brigid’s parents, Erik and Deirdre, have driven in from Scranton and they’ve brought Erik’s mom, Momo, who has advanced dementia. Brigid’s sister, Aimee, a lawyer, has arrived from Philadelphia.

The moving van hasn’t come yet with Brigid and Richard’s belongings, so their new place is looking pretty grim. Even though it’s on two levels, the lower level is a windowless basement. The top floor has one window, which looks out onto what Deirdre describes as “an alley full of cigarette butts”, although Brigid prefers to call it “an interior courtyard.”

The Humans starts off like a dark sitcom. Deirdre’s daughters are tired of their mom’s endless communications, for instance: “You don’t have to text every time a lesbian kills herself.” But there’s a pugnacious affection within the family that keeps things buoyant. Relatively. [Read more…]