New York | 1h 35m | Already closed

The Humans

From 75 critic and 1,417 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway hit production transferred to Broadway, where it won four 2016 Tony Awards including Best Play. Stephen Karam's ghost story/thriller explores the way we humans cope with our biggest fears. More…

Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex, eerie things start to go bump in the night. Soon, family tensions reach a boiling point…and the hilarity, heart and horrors of the Blake clan are exposed. A look at the mysteries of the modern American family, this new play seeks to remind us that we all have our fears, but we don’t have to face them alone. Two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello directs.

1h 35m | Already closed | Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (Midtown W)

New York Magazine / Vulture

"It is still the most, well, human play I’ve ever seen about fear and disappointment and the attachments that transcend them...When a naturalistic play is working on so many levels (literally, in this case) an odd thing can happen: You can begin to feel that the characters are just going about their lives onstage but that you, in the audience, are acting. At any rate, you may find yourself gasping and yelping and, if you’re the type, crying." Full Review

The New York Times

"The title may sound generic, but there’s nothing blurry about Mr. Karam’s scorching drama. Drawn in subtle but indelible strokes, Mr. Karam’s play might almost qualify as deep-delving reportage, so clearly does it illuminate the current, tremor-ridden landscape of contemporary America...The finest new play of the Broadway season so far." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"This talented writer has an innate sense of dramatic tension and theatricality, he also has a rare understanding that you do not need to pop pills for tragedy to bang on your door...A truly remarkable and exceptionally moving play...Mantello, whose work is self-effacing, clearly understands the quality of this play — which represents a whole new level for Karam...Few writers of his generation have achieved anything quite like 'The Humans.'" Full Review

The Associated Press

"The dark comedy opened Thursday at the Helen Hayes Theatre with a terrific cast and an unsentimental look at the way we live today — anxiety-ridden, having little control over our environment or bodies, forever stretched and always a step from the abyss. It is an absolute triumph." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"A production that has become even more timely in its expression of middle class anxieties, but remains most noteworthy for the exquisite performances by some of New York’s finest stage actors...For all the problems the characters face, the actors are superb in communicating an affection and good humor that feels genuine and that draws us in. They do justice to the work of playwright Stephen Karam." Full Review

Time Out New York

"'The Humans' is just as funny, just as moving and just as sneakily unsettling in its new Broadway incarnation, and retains its essential intimacy...'The Humans' is the kind of show that we must usually go Off Broadway to see: a thoughtful new play by a young American writer, with a cast of expert local actors. With no slight intended to the lions and the witches and the extravagant wardrobes: It's good to see 'The Humans' on Broadway, too." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Playwright Stephen Karam takes this familiar, if shop-worn, dramatic framework and transforms it into a 95-minute work that is fresh, funny, piercing and perceptive...Karam has an eye for detail on a near-cellular level, an ear for authentic dialogue and a superlative ability to balance laughter and sorrow. There’s a lot of both here...Joe Mantello’s direction is smart and subtle, making excellent use of the bi-level stage." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"A deeply engaging play...'The Humans' is a psychological thriller that manages to capture the human condition, its pain, its worries, its culpability, even its hopes in concrete images that often leave the audience spellbound. Joe Mantello’s direction is pure perfection as is David Zinn’s upstairs-downstairs, superego-ego set...The ensemble cast is brilliant – one member better than the next – and with superb craft give each of their characters a gritty authenticity." Full Review


"A smart decision was made to hold on to the exquisitely matched acting ensemble and also the play’s, well, human scale by re-mounting it in the Helen Hayes, the smallest Tony-eligible house. As a result, the play retains its remarkable power as a tale of sorrows veined with silver threads of humor...'The Humans' is tremendously exciting theater, and I remain convinced that you won’t see a better play this season." Full Review


"There is so much love, dread, tenderness and brutality in 'The Humans' that it is hard to believe just 90 minutes pass through Stephen Karam’s deeply-felt family tragicomedy thriller...The move to a larger showcase feels right, enlarging the impact without losing the nuances of light and dark...On second viewing, the retelling of bad dreams now seems woven into a richer psychological carpet and the few plot threads that seemed undeveloped now feel beautifully wrought." Full Review


"Sensitively staged by Joe Mantello, 'The Humans' transpires in real-time, as one uninterrupted 95-minute act...Karam paints such a dynamic portrait of real life that I could only sit and absorb the insecurities and frailties batted around on stage. 'The Humans' is monumentally affecting, and something for which theatergoers should be oh-so-very thankful." Full Review


"Karam’s exquisite family drama, so lovingly transferred to Broadway, is a flawless gem. Director Joe Mantello has deepened the play’s tragicomic elements, capturing the dynamics of a family you may not know but will surely recognize...The cast is superb…Karam’s play is a mirror reflecting our absurd humanity. We laugh and we cry amid the worst challenges. But through it all, there’s family - for better or worse - to cushion the blow." Full Review

The Washington Post

"In a mere 95 minutes, the playwright — bolstered by a whip-smart director, Joe Mantello, and pitch-perfect cast of six — delves into the dynamics of this clan with a gentleness that feels like compassion and a scrupulousness that borders on the forensic…'The Humans' is the sort of impeccably constructed play that should be a regular inhabitant on Broadway, not the occasional, surprising guest." Full Review


“Stephen Karam's insightful, melancholy, it's funny-because-it's-true drama ‘The Humans’ is about the fears of one family…Joe Mantello, directing the outstanding original cast, balances everyday irritations and genuine eerieness delicately, so that it simultaneously feels mysteriously fable-like and grounded in reality…That's what's so beautiful and moving about ‘The Humans.’ This family doesn't just take each other apart — they put each other back together again.” Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

"This is a major play, no doubt about it...'The Humans' is a deeply humane and compassionate play, and, in spite of tackling difficult subjects, a sparklingly funny one...The cast is uniformly extraordinary, with my personal favorite being the always sparkling Houdyshell. Director Joe Mantello delineates ever turn of this intricate play, never missing a detail or a nuance. Highly recommended." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Stephen Karam has written a play that stands for its time...The careful, relatable mundanity of the plot serves as a springboard for the profound conflicts of everyday existence...The formidable cast so brilliantly embody their roles that it's difficult to believe that they walk off stage and into their real lives...This play will move you, and it can -- and likely will be -- pondered and parsed for many years to come." Full Review


"Under Mantello's sensitive direction, the whole production has kept up an aura of lingering dread. In fact, the performances seem sharper in this Broadway transfer...Through brutal realism, Karam presents a family careering toward disaster with little in the way of an evasive action plan. For too many Americans, that situation alone will feel painfully uncanny — so much so that you won't be able to look away." Full Review

New York Post

“It’s amazing what the playwright and director pull off here…It’s often startlingly funny, and keeps an emotional grip on its audience throughout. The ending even adds a whiff of quasisupernatural terror that somehow doesn’t feel out of place…Aside from the sharp, nuanced writing, credit must go to the ensemble...They’re like the show as a whole, moving stealthily and laying waste to your heart.“ Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Horror occurs in countless forms and at varying degrees, describing a sweeping range of experiences that define who we are. Perhaps the greatest marvel of the many in 'The Humans,' the outstanding new play at the Helen Hayes, is just how many of these playwright Stephen Karam and director Joe Mantello manage to pack into their fusion-charged 95-minute evening." Full Review

Out Magazine

"Bouts of affection are expressed, but only along with culture clashes, putdowns, and revelations on the order of illness and infidelity. That’s pretty standard for a family drama, but the play laces that with crackling dialogue which has your sympathies shifting between the characters...A remarkable and feisty work that’s one of the year’s best." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

"Watching 'The Humans' is like being a fly on the wall...Karam paints the most realistic characters who relate to one another in a non-sensational, but wholly compelling way. It doesn’t hurt that director Joe Mantello has assembled one of the best casts currently represented on a Broadway stage. There exists a universal component here that is remarkable...When the curtain falls, you have no choice but to leave 'The Humans' with a life-altering worldview." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Thanks to Karam’s script and the ensemble’s performances, every slight, every shared memory, and every knowing glance feels utterly lived in. The brilliant direction by Joe Mantello helps hugely with believability as well…Karam’s transcendently mundane play is a reminder that family dinner dramas can still be surprising — and they doesn’t need ghosts or things that go bump in the night to achieve that. Real life is scary enough." Full Review


"Each and every character is enormously appealing, and Karam takes care to reveal their guarded secrets with great tenderness, just as Mantello’s directorial hand gently advances the play from comedy to tragedy. The revelations of weakness in this close-knit family are not entirely unexpected...The big question, of course, is whether the Blakes can survive after this emotional night. Karam doesn’t make it easy for them — or us." Full Review


“The comedy-drama is about the randomness of life, which can be terribly cruel, and the comfort received by belonging to a family…I appreciated the way the exemplary actors blended together with a special rapport. Under the masterful direction of Joe Mantello, they displayed the unmistakable rhythms of a family gathering:…‘The Humans’ doesn't suggest tomorrow will be a brighter day. What it does say is that, if we're part of a loving family, we won't have to face the bad stuff alone.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"They feel as much like a real family with scars and tender spots and grudges and rages as any family I’ve ever met. I’d like to say it is the actors who bring the magic or that it’s all on the page or that the director’s deft sense of pacing does the job. But, hell, there’s lots of credit to go around. If you can get a ticket grab it. This is one of those terrific shows you will spend worthy hours with afterwards. You know, the kind of play that keeps on giving." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You have a dysfunctional family like me

Don't see it if You have lived a leave it beaver type life

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if you love great plays, an instant classic

Don't see it if you only like musicals

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if you are looking for a brilliant family drama. Fantastic characters, a fantastic storyline, and wonderfully written!

Don't see it if you're looking for just a comedy. This play has a fantastic balance of humor and drama and has a ton of depth but its a heavier play.

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you love theater, acting, great sets, a twisted family story

Don't see it if you hate puppies or hate good theater or have little children

Absorbing, Must see, Resonant

See it if You are a human. The show is about a family and its relationships. Very well written and acted. Must see

Don't see it if You don't like people.. really can't think of a reason not to see this show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Masterful

See it if A large-scale human drama on a small-scale. We come to love and pity and fear for these characters as if they were our own family.

Don't see it if Watching masterfully written characters sort out their troubles causes you discomfort. But then, you wouldn't be on this site at all...!

Exquisite, Great writing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You like a well done family drama with incredible performances by all involved You like perfection on stage

Don't see it if You don't like to pay attention to words spoken on stage You need songs to keep you interested in a play.

Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Absorbing

See it if I loved this show. It was the perfect combination of funny, sad, touching and heartwarming.

Don't see it if Great acting and outstanding play. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great writing, Resonant

See it if you have a complicated background & family.

Don't see it if you like musicals and happy clappy shit.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You enjoy extraordinary acting and potent writing

Don't see it if You are simply looking for a funny show

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see

See it if You love great acting and storytelling. One of the next great plays!

Don't see it if You don't like family drama or plays.

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy

See it if you love great acting, relationship stories and feeling many emotions

Don't see it if you have a normal family


See it if a poignant/funny play about family,the complexities of love, life's unpredictability, and resilience.Great writing, perfect cast....see it!

Don't see it if do not miss this gem!

Also this play really develops its characters, and makes them relatable, en... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you have EVER lived in NYC. A great view of a normal American family in which noone is perfect but together they are family.

Don't see it if You want to see something light and fluffy.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Exquisite, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You want to see one of the best play ever written. Modern and relate able, real, and haunting.

Don't see it if You want something light and fluffy.

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Intense

See it if you enjoy modern plays about the American Experience of today.

Don't see it if this play might be a little difficult if you're not a seasoned theater-goer or don't follow current events.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if The drama drags you into the family's dinner until you feel their pain and sorrow.

Don't see it if If you don't want your own family's wounds re-opened.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Must see, Relevant

See it if you're not a big musical fan or you want to see another family from the inside.

Don't see it if you're looking to see a musical

Also the show was beautiful in the sense that the apartment in which it too... Read more Read less

Exquisite, Great writing, Great acting, Masterful, Profound

See it if You love drama, have been waiting for the next great American drama.. It is a modern day classic!

Don't see it if You don't like 1 scene sets or have any issue with family arguments on stage

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Relevant

See it if A must see play with vibrant and every day people. We easily identify with this family and their issues as we've all experienced them.

Don't see it if you cannot face reality!

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You enjoy a slice-of-life experience in the theater. If you are a middle-class family this will feel like Thanksgiving at your house.

Don't see it if You are expecting a lot of bell and whistles. This isn't about anything, however it really is about everything.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if you enjoy 'small' intense family drama and psychological study

Don't see it if you like more upbeat, cheery entertainment

Absorbing, Dramatic, True to life, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if You like drama that explores issues without promoting a particular viewpoint

Don't see it if You can't deal with hearing about human imperfections

Absorbing, Intelligent, Must see, Resonant, Refreshing

See it if you enjoy theater about real life, you enjoy great writing and great acting, you have a free night to see something

Don't see it if you hate great theater

Delightful, Clever, Absorbing, Refreshing, Original

See it if you like to see dynamics of family dramas

Don't see it if you like family disagreements

Cast & Creatives (13)