“The Humans” by Stephen Karam at Seattle Rep

Here, right on this stage, we have the funny, sad, enduring life of a middle-class contemporary United States family. They have come together for the annual Thanksgiving celebration. Each member bringing his or her angst wrapped up in the good spirits the holiday requires.

Richard Thomas, Daisy Eagan, Pamela Reed, Therese Plaehnn, and Luis Vega. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The gathering is at daughter Bridget’s new apartment shared with her lover, Richard. Bridget and Richard are thrilled with their new digs. Located in New York’s Chinatown, the place is spacious and even has a spiral staircase connecting two floors. What’s more, it’s affordable. Where in Manhattan can you find that? True, one of the floors is a basement, and there’s only one window in the entire apartment. In addition, there are loud noises reminiscent of the excavations required for the new 2nd Ave. subway. So what! For Manhattan it’s a deal.

Included in the family Thanksgiving celebration is Bridget’s older sister Aimee. She’s a lawyer who is suffering emotionally from a recent break up with her girlfriend. Meanwhile, she suffers physically from a gastric disorder. Their parents have joined them from Scranton, PA, and have brought along Dad’s mother, Momo, who has advanced dementia.

So yes, here we have a typical American family glad to be together celebrating our annual holiday of thankfulness. Yet, like so many middle-class Americans they suffer from the angst that comes along with modern life.

Aimee’s about to be laid off. Mom and Dad are struggling financially even though they have worked hard and productively all their adult lives, and what are they to do if Momo needs institutional care? Bridget loves her new apartment but her student loans hang like the sword of Damocles over her head. Meanwhile Richard has years of graduate school before he’ll be fully employed. And unbeknownst to the children, Dad has a distressing issue that we learn about late in the play.

Shouldn’t life be better? Shouldn’t there be more security? Not in this society for all too many of us. We must live carefully and avoid the mistakes that too often have serious consequences.

This is a thought provoking, prize-winning play (Tony Award, Best Play 2016) filled with funny dialog offered by a superb ensemble. Ordinary lives are presented with extraordinary precision under the direction of Joe Mantello. It comes to us straight from New York. After Seattle, this production will move on to theatres across the country.

Through Dec., 17 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle, 206 443-2222 or seattlerep.org.

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