Maddie Cordes paid a visit to the Hampstead Theatre to catch a performance of Stephen Karam’s drama.
Good theatre gets in our heads and starts conversations long after the play has been watched. This is certainly achieved with The Humans which shines a light on a sliver of “normal” family life, bringing together three generations over a family visit and the tensions this creates. Minute by minute layers of the family onion are peeled away revealing issue after issue of unhappiness, regret, criticism, misplaced expectations and fear of the future.
We are drawn into the father’s subconscious dream world which delivers us images together with the words as to how he is feeling. The dolls house set worked well with simultaneous action in different rooms and made for a slightly different experience depending on whether you were viewing from the stalls or the circle. Jumbled dialogue with characters overlapping each other realistically reflected how families behave and their real life conversations.
One line which had a massive impact and stayed with us a week later came from the father and the lesbian daughter with a chronic illness who had lost her job in response “Father: We don’t do depression in our family – Daughter: No we just do stoic sadness”.
The family gathering with its multiple personal revelations brought shock but ultimate relief for all family members as they opened up to each other and shared their issues and fears and we started seeing a glimmer of a more positive shared future.
By Maddie Cordes