The Human Race Brings Audiences Home in the World Premiere of Family Ties

Review by Rachel Brandenburg of Family Ties: Human Race Theatre

Based on the television series of the same name, Family Ties, by Daniel Goldstein, brings a real treat to this cozy third-floor theatre. Set in 2008, about 20 years after the last episode aired, the play follows the characters as they stroll through some of their most cherished (or perhaps not-so-cherished) childhood memories. Characters watch onstage and invite the audience in like part of the family, looking on to parts of their lives played out before them. Alex, played by Jim Stanek, is now running for Congress, and preparing to have a child of his own. Stanek truly captures the well-meaning yet finicky and, at times, even self-centered heart of Alex Keaton while sharing with the audience the deep divide he feels between his career and his family.

Thea Brooks, as Mallory, opens the play strong, along with Sara Mackie, Jennifer, encapsulate the love/hate dynamic of sibling rivalries, charming the audience with witty banter and household mockery throughout the show. Maggie Lou Rader, playing Ellen, gives a genuine and romantic performance as she transforms from an angsty college artist to Alex’s loving wife. Eve Plumb is a true joy as Elyse, strong and situated as the mother and apparent backbone of the household. And Lawrence Redmond, playing Steven Keaton, sustains as the familiar and loving father figure, who, although he may disagree with his son’s politics, deeply loves and supports his family.

Set design, by Tamara L. Honesty, maximizes the realism and depth that a TV set can accomplish without losing the intimacy of the theatre. Walking into the theatre feels a bit like walking into someone’s front door.

Family Ties closes at the Human Race this weekend. If you can, I would highly recommend bringing the whole family out to see it. It is a pleasure not only for those who are familiar with the series—the audience around me couldn’t help themselves from reliving their favorite moments—but also a deeply relatable story for people of any age or walk of life. Audience members can see themselves in the familiar family narrative as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and everything in-between. I myself would like to see this play again in five, ten, even twenty years down the road and see how my relationship with it changes as I enter a new phase of my life, just how Alex himself is on the brink of such a big transformation.

For tickets go to tickets:ticketscenterstage.org.

 

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