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  The Humans at American Theater Company

The Humans

American Theater Company
1909 W Byron Chicago

New York City. Today. After a sleepless night, Mr. Blake brings his family from Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving at his youngest daughter's run-down apartment. As dinner begins, unexplainable and family tensions reach a boiling point. Karam (Sons of the Prophet, Speech & Debate) takes a fresh look at the hilarity, heart and horrors of the modern American family. The cast includes Lance Baker, Hanna Dworkin, Keith Kupferer, Jean Moran, Kelly O'Sullivan, and Sadieh Rifai; O' Sullivan and Rifai are members of the ATC ensemble.

Thru - Feb 1, 2015

Price: $38-$48

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 773-409-4125

Running Time: 1hr, 30 mins

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  The Humans Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...The love that drives the show is most notably embodied by Hanna Dworkin, a Chicago actress with a long history but not that much work of late, here playing one of those Irish Catholic women who can survive almost anything. Equally terrific is Sadieh Rifai, who plays the sister, a lawyer but not playing the usual roles assigned to attorneys in such plays. Her Aimee Blake is sick and struggling, and Rifai, counterintuitively, makes this the warmest, funniest, saddest lawyer you'll ever see in a play."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...It’s a very clever trick, but a sleight-of-hand gift that should not be surprising to those who saw the playwright’s zany earlier work, “Sons of the Prophet” (a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize), which also was staged by ATC. Karam has a special flair for making the absurd realities of contemporary life at once wildly laughable and heartbreakingly true. He knows that if you can’t laugh at the human condition you might as well just hang yourself. And the excellent director PJ Paparelli, and his uniformly exceptional cast, are primed for the crazy ride of it all."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Director PJ Paparelli brings all that out nicely in his staging for American Theater Company. The conceit is that we're watching the Blakes' Thanksgiving dinner unfold in real time, from Costco crudite platter to the annual family ritual of handing around a pink peppermint pig to be hammered at by the guests while they count their blessings. (This is apparently a real thing.) The two-tiered set makes for easy eavesdropping and, infinitely more important, passages of unguarded pensiveness. Oddly, some of the best moments in the show occur during those passages. Hannah Dworkin is triumphantly annoying as a Deirdre lacking boundaries, but also heartbreaking when she's ensconced in a cushy chair in half-light, silent and alone. Likewise, I felt transfixed at times, watching Keith Kupferer's Erik accrue depths simply by sitting on a couch and watching his family from a slight distance."
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Tony Adler

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Many of the actors here have helped director PJ Paparelli and Karam, a writer who's made American Theater Company his Chicago home, shape these characters throughout the play's development; in some cases, as with ATC ensemble members O'Sullivan and Rifai, he was writing with them in mind."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...If the strength of "The Humans" lies in its journey, its tumultuous progression, the arrival at Erik's revelation feels underwritten - almost incidentally dispatched, less than the mortifying disclosure that it is. Perhaps the solution is sharper focus by the director, but I suspect the real need is for a sharpened pencil and a bit of rewriting. As a family photo, however, this play is a three-dimensional beauty. No frame could hold it."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...As with the best holiday plays, The Humans transcends its seasonal setting by focusing more on people than on events. This is particularly evident in the title’s multiple meanings. On the surface, it refers explicitly to an anecdote Richard tells about aliens watching humans from outer space and thinking they look and act like monsters. As such, it seems to refer to the audience’s point of view. Perhaps more significantly, the title emphasizes the utter humanity of Karam’s characters. If The Humans rings true, it is not simply because we’ve experienced a Thanksgiving like the Blakes’, but because we are human like the Blakes."
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Barnaby Hughes

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...In this 90 minute one act, the six person cast each have their say with Keith Kupferer and Hanna Dworkin anchoring the work. The celebration of Thanksgiving leads to a boiling point as the underlying tension explodes into truths that threaten the Blakes’ core. Take the journey with these folks and you’ll quickly become immersed into memories of your family’s past holidays. That journey will jar you as much as this outstanding play does. The power of live theatre to transport us into examining ourselves is effectively accomplished here. I now know why Stepper Karam titled his well written drama The Humans."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...The unanswered questions of whether Erik will accept his youngest daughter’s relationship to an older man or if his daughters will in turn forgive his failure as a husband and father are part of what makes this play’s finale definitively timeless. The Humans belongs to a cannon of excellent drama that reaffirms what any good shrink will tell you: the work is never over. While the Baby Boomers dream of the endless all-you-can-eat Caribbean cruise that is retirement, everything from global economic forces to momentary lapses of judgment can uproot even the best-laid plans. For the younger generations, comfort can and should be found in the false convictions of their forbearers. With no guarantees, the only choice is to follow your dreams. Even if they lead you to a split-level apartment with a cigarette-strewn interior courtyard. Humble even at its most sublime, The Humans is a feast for the soul."

Kevin Greene

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...ATC’s production, directed by artistic director PJ Paparelli, is spot on. Kupferer and Dworkin evoke an entire shared history with nothing but a few glances and eye-rolls. In fact, the entire cast brings the kind of lived-in familiarity bordering on outright hostility that only family members can achieve. Dworkin especially (though credit goes to Karam too) nails the excruciatingly awkward humor of a woman who is kind but neurotic and far too well-intentioned to ever be genuinely funny."
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Alex Huntsberger

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Stephen Karam’s new play will be making its way to New York’s Roundabout Theatre next year, but it’s being given a true, gritty treatment here in PJ Paparelli’s exquisite production. It’s multilayered and magnificent in its honesty and heartfelt earnestness. Every actor is superb. Each moment is both familiar and unique. The playwright says there are six basic fears: poverty, criticism, ill health, the loss of love, old age and death. In his latest play, now in a breathtaking, heartfelt production at the American Theater Company, audiences will experience all of these firsthand. This is, after all, what it means to be human, especially in today’s world."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...THE HUMANS are human! The show is relatable. People say the wrong things at the right time. (I wish my family dramas were this well scripted.) And despite all the family conflict, Karam’s THE HUMANS has a tender side too. We care about all these humans. I left the Blake’s Thanksgiving dinner wanting to return for a Christmas visit."
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Katy Walsh

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