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Theater Spotlight: 'The Humans' full of eerie family drama

| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Cecelia Riddett (in wheelchair then, from left) Arash Mokhtar, Valeri Mudek, Courtney Balan, J. Tucker Smith and Charlotte Booker in Pittsburgh Public Theater's 'The Humans.'
Michael Henninger
Cecelia Riddett (in wheelchair then, from left) Arash Mokhtar, Valeri Mudek, Courtney Balan, J. Tucker Smith and Charlotte Booker in Pittsburgh Public Theater's 'The Humans.'

Pittsburgh Public Theater next play, “The Humans,” is perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

The play, written by Scranton native Stephen Karam, follows three generations of the Blake clan, plus one significant other, as they meet for Thanksgiving dinner in Lower Manhattan.

“The Humans,” which runs from Nov. 9 to Dec. 10, won the 2016 Tony Award for best play. In it, the Irish Catholic Blake family from Scranton are in Chinatown for the holiday because the youngest, Brigid (Valeri Mudek), has just rented an apartment there with her boyfriend, Richard Saad (Arash Mokhtar). Their dinner guests include Brigid's mother Deirdre (Charlotte Booker), her father Erik (J. Tucker Smith), and his mother, known as Momo (Cecelia Riddett). Brigid's sister Aimee (Courtney Balan), a lawyer who lives in Philadelphia, is also there.

In 90 minutes of real-time, those gather air everything from minor complaints to serious setbacks, run up and down a spiral staircase to get to the bathroom, find joy in their shared traditions, and demonstrate their unshakable love for each other. But beneath the typical holiday festivities, eerie things take place: thuds, shadows, rumbles. Is this just life in contemporary Manhattan, or is something else going on?

“The play is rackingly funny even as it pummels the heart and scares the bejesus out of you,” said Jesse Green in Vulture.

Pittsburgh Public Theater's “The Humans” plays Nov. 9-Dec. 10, O'Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh. $25-$65; $15.75 for students and ages 26 and younger. 412-316-1600 or ppt.org

On stage

“All Quiet on the Western Front”: Nov. 10-12. Presented by Prime stage Theatre. New Hazlett Theatre, North Side, Pittsburgh. $12-$25. primestage.com

“The Hard Problem”: Through Nov. 19. Presented by Quantum Theatre. $38-$55, $18 for students. Fifth floor of the Energy Innovation Center, former Connolly Trade School, in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District. 412-362-1713 or quantumtheatre.com

“The Old Man and the Moon”: Nov. 11-Dec. 3. Presented by City Theatre, Pittsburgh's South Side. $38. 412-431-2489 or citytheatrecompany.org

“The Color Purple”: Nov. 14-19. Presented by PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh. Benedum Center, Pittsburgh. $30-$98. 412-456-4800 or trustarts.org

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