Local theater fans don’t often get the chance to see such grounded and critically acclaimed productions like “The Humans.”
The hit play, which takes over the Boch Center Shubert Theatre for a two-week engagement later this month, has been racking up the accolades since it debuted on Broadway two years ago. Written by Stephen Karam, “The Humans” won four Tony Awards – including Best Play – in 2016, and was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama that year.
“The Humans” is a “heart-breaking,” yet surprisingly humorous production that examines the struggles of an American middle class family. The play takes place in a run-down New York City apartment where a group of siblings gather for a contentious Thanksgiving dinner with their parents, who don’t exactly approve of their life choices.
“The audience is sort of invited into a Thanksgiving dinner and invited into somebody’s living room,” explains Therese Plaehn, who plays Aimee for the play’s national tour. “It’s kind of like an emotional roller coaster ride with a lot of laughs.”
As a Scituate native with a “giant Irish Catholic family,” Plaehn could relate to the production’s complex family dynamics. The Boston area actress hopes that the emotional material that stems from the complicated relationship between characters will resonate with audience members of any age.
“We did it at the Kennedy Center, and we had a cousin who was 19 who came and a cousin who’s in her 60s, and both of them came out feeling connected to the material,” Plaehn says. “I think the fact that it spans such a range generationally that people can come out of it and say that they really genuinely loved it is pretty rare.”
“It’s so rare to have something that is an ensemble piece like this and feel like everybody has their own internal thing,” she adds. “We don’t want our mom to worry or we don’t want our dad to worry and there’s a lot going on inside that each character is keeping at bay or trying their best to.”
Although “The Humans” offers a somewhat somber look at an American family, Plaehn believes that the production will also leave audience members with a sense of hope.
“I feel like [the play] is one that will create a lot of conversation,” Plaehn says, “which is all you can ask for in theater.”
If you go:
March 13-25, Boch Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont St., Boston, $25+, bochcenter.org