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The Humans - Mophead Productions

The Humans - Mophead Productions

 Photography: Clare Hawley

Photography: Clare Hawley

The Humans by Stephen Karam is a Tony award winning play celebrated for its detailed study of mundane family relationships. Mophead Productions takes the three generations of the Blake Family to the The Old Fitz for Thanksgiving, making this The Humans' Australian premier. Director Anthea Williams takes the texts theatrical naturalism through to the extremes in this well-thought out intimate production.

The chaos of family reunions when celebrating a momentous occasion or holiday is what The Humans emulates; the familial tension that puts everyone on edge. The silence, as the lights go up on a warmly lit, dim house, is the only auditory reprieve for the next hour a half. The cacophony of overlapping dialogue as family members arrive and talk are all centred around unresolved issues and unspoken dramas. This play takes familial relationships and heightens them to create an immensely sad and endearingly funny comedy-drama talk-fest. 

Well-seasoned, award winning director, Anthea Williams, brings forth a great production. The ambience of The Old Fitz is intimate, assisting to create the empathetic atmosphere of a small New York apartment. The sound design (Clemence Williams) within this small yet quaint space was executed with precision and familiarity. Most notably, It even incorporates effective monotonal soundscapes that reflect the mental state of the Father figure, Erik Blake (Arky Michael). The naturalism of the text is reflected in Williams’ set design, emulating the well-known visual setting of mis-matched chairs, second hand couches and tiny kitchens of run-down apartments. 

Anthea Williams’ focus on the rawness of relationships, is reflected in the body language of archetype characters like the caring, yet distance father (Arky Michael), struggling artist daughter (Madeline Jones) and rich boyfriend (Reza Momenzada). The familiar quips and raillery interweave with a crescendo of emotions that run awry throughout the play. The moments of calm before the storm are some of the most insightful moments, showing the intricate verve of the text that the strain in relationships still reinforce a sense of love. Despite visible efforts of Williams’ naturalist direction, the actors struggled with the style, with effortless comments often stunted within the overlapping dialogue. “Momo” (Dianna McLean), the grandmother with dementia, was a stand-out whose body ticks and verbal cues reflected her characters illness and made her so easy to watch. McLean carried the character with impeccable timing which fit into the context of every scene. 

The hole in the wall, Old Fitz Theatre, is one that any theatre connoisseur should tick off their list. It’s intimate setting is perfect for The Humans to create a visually stimulating and earnest production. Although there were a few beats missed, the combination of an award-winning director and play makes it worth the watch. 

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