On Tuesday, November 8th, a cast of six member put on a wonderful show called The Humans. It was the first professional drama performance I’ve ever seen, and I loved it. The cast members were always focused and performed their roles almost to perfection (at least according to me). What I liked the most about the performance was its ability to hit on several different emotions. There were moments of fear, happiness, sadness, and several short bursts of laughter, usually from by the mother. Theses emotions were in existence all throughout the play, even some simultaneously. There were quick fluctuations of emotion in a performance that began with confusion, shortly followed by fear, and immediately followed by joy. In the opening seen, the father stood frozen, causing me to be confused. Shortly after, loud bangs were heard coming from the floor directly above him, leading to fear. Immediately after, the remaining family members entered the apartment, smiling and laughing, ready to begin their holiday meal. There were more scenes throughout the performance that exhibited similar changings in emotion.
As the play began, I was able to tell that there was something bothering most of the characters, but wasn’t aware of specific problem until after. The performance used this to create suspense. Something was on the father’s mind throughout the play, and it was apparent to everyone, but we didn’t know exactly what. The sister was sick, everyone knew that, but no one knew why or what was wrong with her. Slowly as the play progressed we were made aware of many personal facts: the sister was going through a heart-wrenching breakup with another girl, that the father cheated on his wife with another teacher at school, the sister lost her job, the grandmother was very sick, the parents were nowhere near ideal financial comfort, the main character was struggling with three jobs while her husband finished school, both Rich and the father were having difficulty sleeping. It began with everyone having separate, secretive issues, but ended off with everything revealed.
I think that the characters were created with the purpose of fulfilling distinct roles, both literally and symbolically. Rich, to me, was meant as the ‘normal’ member of the family, even though he wasn’t technically a part of the family. He had a trust-fund providing with financial stability, he didn’t seem to have issues, he was very happy and optimistic, and stayed isolated from the fights happening within the apartment. The mother represented something constant. Throughout everything, her biggest problems were those inflicted upon her from others: taking care of her mother-in-law and having to deal with a cheating husband who is tormented by scary thoughts and sleepless nights. It confused me that she was the character most closely associated with humor. Most, if not all, of the times I laughed it was from the mother. Her snide sense of humor is somewhat confusing considering that she was involved in everyone’s problems. It would have made more sense for it be a character like Rich, who didn’t present such hardship. The main character was interesting. It seemed to me that she was trying to escape the problems of her family but was having a hard time letting go. I assume the former from her moving to New York and the latter from their Thanksgiving custom of smashing the pig, that she loved.
The emotions of happiness, sadness, laughter, fear, and confusion that the play summoned were the primary reasons for such a successful performance. I was a bit of a skeptic at the beginning but as things began to develop, the performance grew on to me. I think it was designed that way—to slowly get you to love it without noticing when you stopped being confused, sad, or happy.