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The Humans at Novato Theatre Company
By Stephen Karam
Directed by Patrick Nims
“I’m grateful to have a home base, a family to come home to” – Aimee Blake
We join The Humans for a Thanksgiving in Chinatown, New York City, yet the afternoon represents more than just a holiday meal with family. As Leigh Bardugo writes, “Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.”
The Blake Family dinner represents all the laughs and pain family protects us from and makes us vulnerable to; The shield from the world, and the sometimes excruciating honesty that can only exist when mortared in unconditional love.
Stephen Karam’s funny and daunting drama shows the crushing pressure of everyday problems by the sandwich generation, drop in marriage and home buying of millennials, and how hard it now is to get into and stay in the middle class. And there’s turkey. And a lot of chuckles. Novato Theatre Company does a brilliant job of bringing this award-winning play to Marin.
Patrick Nims with spot on direction leads a brilliantly cast ensemble. The stage design by Michael Walraven is effective, at first glance simple, but in retrospect complex, a perfect canvas for the actors to color with their individual dramas.
I normally hail the standout performers, but really the entire cast is stellar. Laura Davies (Deidre Blake) and David Francis Perry (Erik Blake) give all the ambiance of a couple in turmoil and yet bound by circumstances and support one another. David gives a strong and heartbreaking performance to the end. The doting sisters, Brigid (played by Olivia Brown) and Aimee (played by Alicia Kraft) have a wonderfully honest affection for each other amidst the occasional sibling squabbles. Marilyn Hughes’ likeness of a life with a mind stolen is so well done you will want to see her after the show for yourself. Ron Chapman (Richard Saad) brings an abundance of hope and understanding that family sometimes (usually) meters out in small doses. Ever so authentic, with an energy so different from the Blake family, you might find yourself silently commiserating as he gingerly steps amid minefield topics over the dinner table, with what could one day be his in-laws.
An emotional journey worth taking, The Humans is approximately a 90 minute performance, and the drama truly hits home.
Novato Theatre Company, September 5 through September 29, 2019
Tickets: Novatotheatercompany.org or 650-493-2006