Theater & Dance
Review
"The Humans"

By: Stephen Karam
Produced by: San Jose Stage Company
Directed by: Tony Kelly
Featuring: Tim Kniffin as “Erik,” Marie Shell as “Deirdre,” Madeline Rouverol as “Brigid,” Lyndsy Kail as “Aimee,” George Psarras as “Richard” and Jessica Powell as “Momo”
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
When: November 20-December 15, 2019
Where: San Jose Stage Company, 490 South 1st Street, San Jose
Tickets: $32-$60. Call 408-283-7142 or visit www.thestage.org.

Kniffin, Rouverol
Dave Lepori / San Jose Stage
Madeline Rouverol as Brigid, right, and Tim Kniffin as Erik in Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” as produced by San Jose Stage Company. It plays November 20 through December 15, 2019.
Cutting out a slice of real life
and putting it on stage in San Jose
Madeline Rouverol talks about performing in Stephen Karam's excellent play
December 8, 2019

During rehearsals for “The Humans” at San Jose Stage Company, Madeline Rouverol at first said about Stephen Karam’s play that “It’s not easy to come up with a sound bite” about it. “It has a lot of naturalistic dialogue, inside jokes the family has … it feels very true-to-life that way.”

But eventually, after 30 minutes or so of conversation by phone, she said, “It is a really beautiful script. It’s a total pleasure, working on it. It feels like things you’ve said or done — bad things you’ve said or done. The characters can be cruel, but they're trying their best.

“It’s relatable to today’s anxieties — How am I going to move on until tomorrow? It’s about, you sort of do your best, try to do your best and help people around you as best you can. “There are moments that kind of make you cry. It’s like watching yourself doing something you’ve done or said.”

“The Humans,” which was a Tony winner in 2016, and a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, opened on November 20, and closes on December 15, 2019.

In the Broadway World review, Paul Bolton said “Rouverol is spirited in the role as she shows she is becoming the glue that now holds this family together.”

“It follows the Blake family around Thanksgiving,” Rouverol explained. “Their youngest, Brigid (Rouverol), moves to New York, but the family is coming to Thanksgiving at her new, unfurnished China Town apartment.

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“It’s sort of a slice of life about the horrors of everyday life. Grandmother has dementia … life that can be scary in everyday life. … It’s an authentic look at the truth of the lower middle class. The patriarch has pulled the rug out from under the entire family. The house of cards they’ve built is about to collapse. … How do people in scary situations help each other.”

Rouverol is paired with the always capable George Psarras (resident sound director, actor and general jack-of-all-theatrical-trades at nearby City Lights Theater Company), who plays Brigid’s beau, Richard. Together, according to Bolton, “They exemplify the progressive nature of a younger generation who cringe at the parents staid beliefs.”

Rouverol grew up in Santa Rosa, but took off for the University of Michigan when she was 18, then moved to New York. She lived with her real-life beau, Barrett Riggins. They met in drama classes in high school, and went to Michigan together. Rouverol comes back to the San Francisco Bay occasionally, when she gets gigs, such as this play at San Jose Stage, and before that, the world premiere of “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberly,”at Marin Theatre Company. That play was written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon.

“I loved doing ‘Wickhams,’” she said, “There was a long rehearsal process — that keeps you on your toes! I loved working with Lauren (America’s most-produced living playwright) and Margot.” Rouverol’s next step is to return to new digs in Brooklyn. She said she wants to be working more consistently, and is only seven show weeks from her Equity card, after this show.

John Orr is a member of the America Theatre Critics Association. Email him at johnorr@regardingarts.com
Kniffin, Shell, Psarras, Rouverol
Dave Lepori / San Jose Stage
Tim Kniffin as Erik, Marie Shell as Deidre, George Psarras as Richard, and Madeline Rouverol as Brigid, in Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” as produced by San Jose Stage Company. It plays November 20 through December 15, 2019.
Kniffin, Shell, Psarras, Rouverol
Dave Lepori / San Jose Stage
Madeline Rouverol as Brigid, Lyndsy Kail as Aimee, Tim Kniffin as Erik, and Marie Shell as Deidre, from left, and Jessica Powell as Momo, center front, in Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” as produced by San Jose Stage Company. It plays November 20 through December 15, 2019.


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