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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Humans @ Artist's Rep

"The Humans" is somewhat difficult to review. I'll start by saying that it is quite simply splendid. The difficulty in writing about it lies in trying to explain why. The best, and most succinct way is to describe and laud its realism. Usually, "realism" is used as a synonym for "gritty." I use it here as the best way I can think of to denote that few other plays I've seen have been so true-to-life. The mother, Diedre, (Luisa Sermol)  seems achingly motherly. A woman who is both exasperating and endearing. The father, Erik Blake, (Robert Pescovitz) is equally Dad-ish, an incessant worrier about maintenance issues, and the like. Vanna O'Brien is outstanding in her role as the matriarch suffering from dementia, believable to frightening degree when she loses her grip.

It is as if playwright Stephen Karam recorded a Thanksgiving Meal and then simply transcribed it. Even the jokes seem unnervingly natural. Which makes it all the stranger when the play takes a breakneck turn towards a sadder tone. This turn is welcome, if sudden and arguably incongruous. The final minutes are bewildering, perhaps not in a negative way, though the people I chatted with at the Reception were similarly confused, so at least i'm not alone. None of this diminishes the remarkableness of the production as a whole, I suspect you will see someone you know represented by at least one these characters. Their sheer humanity is that striking.   

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