By STEPHEN KARAM
Directed by JOE MANTELLO
Running time: 1 HOUR 35 MINUTES WITH NO INTERVAL
£10 - £40 (See ticket information)
'The Best Play of The Year. The Humans. The Humans. The Humans.’ The New York Times
1 Sep - 13 Oct 2018
£10 - £40
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
★★★★★ THE SUNDAY TIMES
★★★★ THE TIMES
★★★★ THE TELEGRAPH
★★★★ THE INDEPENDENT
★★★★ EVENING STANDARD
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Hampstead Theatre is proud to present the Broadway production of The Humans by Stephen Karam, the winner of four 2016 Tony Awards including Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play and Best Scenic Design in a Play. This highly anticipated UK premiere follows the play’s extraordinary Broadway success and includes the complete award-winning New York cast.
Three generations of the Blake family have assembled for Thanksgiving in Brigid and Richard’s ramshackle pre-war apartment in Lower Manhattan. Whilst the event may have a slightly improvised air, the family is determined to make the best of its time together. As they attempt to focus on the traditional festivities, fears of the past and pressures of the future seep into the reunion and the precariousness of their position becomes increasingly evident.
Stephen Karam’s blisteringly funny and deeply chilling drama is a stunning portrayal of the human condition; a family at its best and worst navigating the challenges of everyday life. Karam’s other plays include Speech & Debate and Sons of the Prophet, the latter of which was, like The Humans, a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello’s directing credits also include the hit musical Wicked, the 2018 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women and the currently playing Broadway revival of The Boys in the Band.
Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell reprise their Tony Award winning performances alongside the full Broadway cast, which includes Cassie Beck, Lauren Klein, Arian Moayed and Sarah Steele.
We are grateful to Lin and Ken Craig who have generously supported this production.
OTHER AWARDS FOR THE HUMANS
Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding New Broadway Play
The New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Best Play
Drama League Award, Outstanding Production of a Play
Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Play
Special Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble
The Company are appearing with the permission of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.
Originally produced in New York by
Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes (Artistic Director/CEO) Julia C. Levy (Executive Director)
Sydney Beers (General Manager) Steve Dow (Chief Administrative Officer)
and produced on Broadway by
Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, Roundabout Theatre Company
Fox Theatricals, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Roy Furman, Daryl Roth, Jon B. Platt, Eli Bush, Broadway Across America, Jack Lane, Barbara Whitman, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Sonia Friedman, Amanda Lipitz, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, Lauren Stein, and The Shubert Organization; Executive Producers: Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson.
'Erik and Deirdre Blake have travelled into New York City from working-class Scranton, Pennsylvania, to spend the day with their daughters Aimee, a lawyer, and Brigid, a wannabe musician working two bartending jobs to make ends meet. But the jostling jollity as they arrive in Brigid’s new rental, a dingy Chinatown flat, always has an edge. Also present is Brigid’s new boyfriend, Richard (doing the cooking), and grandma Momo, who has dementia.'
'It’s a slow burn this one but intriguing from the get-go. Joe Mantello directs a play that, at some point (the Swiss chard salad?) turns into a sort of psychological thriller.'
'The flat (the ultra detailed two-level set is by David Zinn) is prone to mishaps. Lights go out, things go a lot more than bump in the night: it often sounds like a poltergeist is doing DIY above.'
'Things are falling apart. And it’s not only the building. The Blakes are having a tough time, as is the American middle class in general. The wonder of this script by Stephen Karam is how skilfully he interlaces all of that into what seems (and I am American originally) a pretty normal event. This feels real. They josh, banter, criticise, apologise.'
'Secrets and lies. Fears and fibs. Everyone’s got a hidden story here, playing out in real time. This play won four Tonys in 2016 and this is the Broadway cast. I can hardly believe our luck.'
'They all inhabit their characters from the inside. Reed Birney is Erik, a man who couldn’t see the bright side of a shiny penny. Jayne Houdyshell is fantastic as Deirdre, the kind of mother who sends her children care packages with wind-up radios in case of a random emergency.'
'There is much to absorb here as you start to see how the American dream, for those in the middle, is under siege.'
'Still, it’s Thanksgiving. More potatoes anyone?'
Ann Treneman, 8 September, 2018
'Stephen Karam’s The Humans – which won four Tony Awards in 2016 and now materialises with its utterly superb New York cast and creative team, led by director Joe Mantello, intact – serves up a family drama that might be subtitled Nightmare on Main Street.'
'Set in a drear New York Chinatown basement apartment (“duplex” but not deluxe) newly occupied by twenty something musician Brigid Blake and her decade-older partner Richard, the play follows a handful of people clustered in fragile familial amity.'
'They’ve gathered for Thanksgiving but what is there to be grateful for? “Don’t you think it should cost less to be alive?” Reed Birney’s Erik bleakly joshes as he swigs a beer and stares into the future. It’s a throwaway remark in a play that relishes casual (often comically so) conversation, but it’s telling, with a hint of Willy Loman’s gloomy surmise in Death of a Salesman (“You end up worth more dead than alive”). Just as Miller’s masterpiece played with form, so Karam’s potent – and finally searing – portrait of what we would call over here the Jams – Just About Managings – is tricksier than it at first appears.'
'Crashes and thuds from the floor above initially combine with other spooking environmental factors to open a window on the stresses and strangeness of the neighbourhood. Yet as the piece moves on, and winter darkness – assisted by blown bulbs and fuses – takes hold, it’s as if everything we’re looking at acquires the malevolence that Erik, too close for lasting comfort to the 9/11 attacks, says he experiences in his dreams. Are we watching a naturalistic play about an ordinary family or an eerie, harrowing summation of humanity akin to Munch’s The Scream? Ingeniously, both.'
Dominic Cavendish, 9 September, 2018
'Stephen Karam’s bitterly funny and piercingly sad play was a massive hit on Broadway, where it won four Tony Awards in 2016. Edward Hall saw it and immediately wanted to produce it – he assumed this would be with a British director and cast – at Hampstead. But he also admitted to himself that Joe Mantello’s original Broadway production could not be bettered.'
'We owe Hall a debt of gratitude for his modesty and daring. He seized the opportunity of the American cast reuniting for a season in Los Angeles to bring the show over, giving us the chance to marvel at its rhythmic precision and remarkably lived-in and authentic performances.'
'The cast brilliantly animates the crosstalk of this assertive lower-middle-class clan who are caught in conditions of slightly forced, camping-out jollity (paper plates and cups because the real things haven’t yet arrived).'
Paul Taylor, 7 September, 2018
The Evening Standard
'The greatest compliment I can pay The Humans is say — and this is by no means a given for any play — that it is overwhelmingly human.'
'Karam’s writing is fresh but has a convincingly lived-in quality, full of amicable, time-honed bickering and bantering as three generations of the just-about-managing Blake family come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. '
'Joe Mantello’s production boasts a superlative cast, totally and tonally at ease with each other.'
Fiona Mountford, 7 September, 2018
'Hampstead Theatre is presumably feeling pretty pleased with itself after landing a transfer of Stephen Karam's hit 2015 Broadway play, with original cast intact. And rightly so. 'The Humans' has a pretty unimaginative set-up: a bickering family with adult kids are plonked round a Thanksgiving dinner table and left to work through their differences. But it irradiates these elements with its ghostly, comfortless vision of a crumbling society.'
'The knife-edge horror of debt and instability are heightened, in Joe Mantello's tense, naturalistic production, by doomy rumblings of something supernatural just at the edges of everyone's consciousness.'
'Ultimately, this production's haunted house rumblings feel a bit overwrought – perhaps because with writing this vivid, we don't need real ghosts to feel the chill.'
Alice Saville, 7 September, 2018
The Sunday Times
'On a distant planet inhabited by a monstrous race of beings with teeth growing down their backs, they tell scary stories about these other aliens who are really scary — called Humans… Such is the idea behind the title of this superb play by Stephen Karam, still in his thirties, which was praised to the skies in New York, won four Tonys and comes to the Hampstead with the original American cast. It’s definitely a must-see.'
'To be honest, the idea of humans as monsters is one of the few here that doesn’t quite gel, because Karam’s depiction of a loving, squabbling, traumatised family, the Blakes, is too empathetic and generous to make them monsters. It is little short of astonishing, though, that in just 95 minutes, his play gives us a blackly comic family drama, a spooky supernatural foray into the characters’ subconscious and an unforgettable “state of the nation” portrait of America today, while never once feeling overburdened with ideas and themes.'
'The Blakes reunite for Thanksgiving in the flat their daughter Brigid has just moved into in New York’s Chinatown. The direction by Joe Mantello is top-notch (as is David Zinn’s set design), as they bicker and crosstalk, buoy up and put down. The actors inhabit their roles to perfection, with Jayne Houdyshell especially good as mom Deirdre, her relationship with Brigid (Sarah Steele) made up equally of love and tactlessness.'
'As a family drama, it’s funny, moving and engaging. Perhaps the miseries are laid on a little thick: there’s illness, career failure, heartbreak, debt, adultery and dementia, which for the sufferer means “slowly becoming someone I don’t know”. But life can be like that sometimes, and every team has a rotten season now and again.'
'This is a play to engage both heart and mind, full of human warmth and black, bitter comedy, and one to think about and brood on for hours afterwards.'
Christopher Hart, 16 September, 2018
FIONA "MOMO" BLAKE
Ann Treneman awards Stephen Karam's The Humans four stars
We take a look back at some of Joe Mantello's career highlights
‘I knew it was a really great play when Joe handed me the script but our intentions for it were blessedly small’
Featuring a Tony Award-winning Broadway hit and Maisie Williams' stage debut
Previews, Mondays and matinees
Full price: £30/£27/£18
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10
Seniors (matinees only): £22/£20
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
Tuesday – Saturday evenings
Full price: £40/£37/£32/£25
Under 30s/Students: £15/£10
Groups: For every 9 tickets get the 10th free
All prices are subject to change. Book early for the best price.