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Curtains up on the 99th season

By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

It is curtains up for the Walpole Footlighters even as the curtain falls on the first show of their 99th season. "The Humans", a play written by Stephen Karam and directed by Cammerron Baits, had its final performance this past Sunday at the Walpole Footlighters Playhouse.

"The Humans" tells the story of the Blake family meeting in the new New York Chinatown apartment of daughter Brigid for Thanksgiving. Brigid has just moved in with boyfriend Richard –- so recently that they are still waiting on the moving truck to arrive with big furniture. Who arrives instead is Brigid’s family–sister Aimee, mother Deirdre, father Erik, and grandmother Momo.

“At face value, the play is a family dramatic comedy set on Thanksgiving in the youngest daughter’s apartment," comments Baits, in the Director's Note. "But the Blakes’ holiday gathering is beset by more than their tradition of eating, drinking, quibbling, and peppermint pig smashing. Playwright Stephen Karam says that he originally wrote the play to ‘try and locate the black pit of dread and malaise Americans have been trying to climb out of post-9/11 and post-financial crisis.’ And locate it he has. It’s in the Blake family. It’s in all of us. It is fear. At its core, this show is about the universal fears of the human experience.”

The wonderful cast brings those human fears and familial relations to life. It could be a subtle glance, a change in breathing pattern, or the tone of voice used to give the audience a glimpse into the lives of the Blake family. Each character has their own fears, and how the fear manifests itself and is coped with changes for each member of the family: fear of not being good enough to follow your passions; fear of being unworthy of love; fear of financial stability after losing a job; fear of developing dementia or other diseases as one gets older; fear of rejection; fear of necessary medical procedures; fear of random acts of terror or natural disasters; fear of cockroaches; fear of the unknown.

While these fears are not universal, the impact that they can have on an individual and a family are. Members of the Footlighters said audiences left talking about how the play struck a nerve or how “that’s my family.”

If you missed "The Humans", you are still able to join the Footlighters for the rest of their 99th season. On November 19, they will perform mini-plays in a 24-hour play festival –- plays are auditioned for, written, directed, and performed all within 24-hours. In February, the Footlighters will produce the farce Ken Ludwig’s "A Comedy of Tenors", a lesser known sequel to the farce "Lend Me a Tenor".

The 99th season will close in May with the musical "Something Rotten!"

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