Sometimes it's refreshing to take a "non-theatre person" to a show because it brings you back down to earth of what it must be like to just watch a story happen. And not be distracted by thoughts about the money and the hierarchy and the misogyny that went into creating it, you know?
This was Brandon's first visit to the Ahmanson and he was very excited about it; how precious is that? By day (and sometimes night) Brandon is a photographer's assistant, and a damn great one at that. And he's big into music, like crazy knowledgeable and a top shelf DJ. So naturally, venues are muy importante to him too. But you know, because I'm a theatre nerd and I can't help myself, on the way to the show I asked him if he had any idea what his favorite play was.
BRANDON: Hmm. Maybe Fiddler on the Roof? Or The Who's Tommy, is that a play? My school once did a great production of Little Shop of Horrors."
BELLA: Oh. Oy vey. Ok. You like musicals.
Despite my initial concerns, later we both agreed that the show was pretty amazing. However, I think I set my expectations just a tad too high. A little over a year ago, I read this contemporary, real-time piece about the Blake Family Thanksgiving and pretty much had a transformative experience. I LOVE this play, and that is probably an understatement. On July 4, 2017, I sent a letter to the playwright's literary agent in hopes that the letter would be passed on to Stephen Karam himself. The gist of the two handwritten pages was, "I know you already know this since you already won a Tony Award, but this play had an exceptional impact on me and here is why and you probably hear this everyday but you probably should and do for a reason." I also expressed interest in auditioning for the play when it traveled to LA. I never heard back, but that's ok.
On the drive home Brandon and I discussed what drew us into the play. We agreed that we were most on board with the father's character and what he was going through. It was also interesting to find that Brandon, along with my aunt and uncle who had watched the play the previous evening, all spent more time focusing on how Rich (played by Nick Mills), Brigid Blake's (played by Sarah Steele) "older" boyfriend, tries to make a good impression on what could become his longterm extended family, while I was much more focused the socioeconomic divide he unintentionally establishes in the play. That was everything to me, because I supposed I tend to focus on that a lot in my friendships and I guess that is not always the best mindset to be in. On a different note, the portrayal of the familial relationships within the Blake family is just breathtakingly honest and beautiful. This play reminds me of times when my parents have tried to help me or teach me something and I'm like, "No, you don't get it, you don't understand," and they might not, but they do know something bigger, something that I haven't comprehended yet, and they do love me and want to help me.
I was contemplating not seeing this play because I didn't want to tarnish the image I had contrived in my imagination when I read it the first time. But because it was the original Broadway cast (and if it couldn't be me, then let it be the OBC) bringing back what they did in Joe Mantello's original direction of the play, I decided to take a chance. So, back to what I was saying about my expectations being too high, there were a few moments that fell short of how they had landed with me on the page in this production. But also props to the production for maintaining an incredibly naturalistic, believable flow and delivery of the script's messages. But also...considering that I had that reaction in the aftermath...I have some motivation to see what I could do with this piece in the future. Which, on one hand, I feel totally unqualified to say something like that, but on the other hand, dream big, right?
This is one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever read, and I feel lucky to have seen it performed this summer with the original Broadway cast. Don't miss your chance to do the same; The Humans runs through July 29th at the Ahmanson. However, after dragging Brandon to Coeurage Theatre's opening of Slaughter City and then this charming dark comedy, I told him that he had earned a musical for our next theatre outing.