The Humans

By Joanna Langfield

Hitting the screen just as we are happy (or not) about seeing family for Thanksgiving, this complicated drama is timely and boosted by its all-star cast.

Stephen Karam directs his Tony Award winning play, bringing its strengths and tweaking a few moments to interesting effect. The great Jayne Houdyshell is here, with an abbreviated version of the mother that justly won her acclaim and awards.  She’s joined by some far more commercially viable talents than her fellow actors who also created the roles, including the always wonderful Richard Jenkins, a nifty Beanie Feldstein, a lovely Steven Yeun and a not-surprising-if-you’ve-been-watching terrific Amy Schumer. It’s a top-flight ensemble bringing us an acting treat to watch.

The piece itself is not as easy. It doesn’t want to be. Under the assumed joy of a family Thanksgiving, each character reveals their secret pains. While there are a few funny moments, and a damn near perfect look at what life in the Big City can mean, Karam peels away the revelations, damage brought on by events larger than us or self induced, and insists we not just recognize them, but realize the inevitablility of human nature. Sometimes, we get hurt. We hurt ourselves, we hurt one another. But, somehow, we go on. And, warts and all, we find love again. It’s a heavy lift, for sure, but with a quiet power and understanding, The Humans shows us what it is to be human, even when it isn’t so easy.