Fun Home, the phenomenal “family tragicomic” musical brings us a deeply personal story of a dysfunctional family that will find echoes in many of our lives. Composer Jeanine Tesori and playwright Lisa Kron have went above and beyond as both reshaped the cartoonist, Alison Bechdel’s, graphic memoir into an unconventional yet unimaginable memory play that harmonizes music and drama.
The musical is an emotional roller coaster but leaves you wanting to know what’s going to happen next. Three brilliant actresses play the same character, Alison Bechdel, at different ages which, of course, sounds difficult but with Fun Home— it comes off naturally as breathing.
Then there is Bruce or “Daddy”, actor Michael Cerveris, who is recognized to be rattling and distressed yet there is still some sympathy for him.
Fun Home represents the small-town funeral home located in Pennsylvania that Bruce runs. It also refers to their Victorian house, which Bruce is endlessly restoring with complete dictatorship.
In the beginning, Malone’s 43-year-old Alison, looks back on her childhood spent around the family funeral home and says, “My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I became a lesbian cartoonist.”
With some humor, came a lot of truth.
Observing middle-aged Alison sharing the stage with her 19-year-old college freshman self, actress Emily Skeggs, beside her nine-year-old self, actress Sydney Lucas– you begin to see all three characters naturally merge and become one amazing real character.
Embracing and decoding one’s sexual identity plays a large role here which can be motivating and amusing for audiences of all sorts.
Witnessing nine-year-old Alison whining about dresses and suggesting crew cuts to going off to college and realizing that she was, in fact, a lesbian.
Bruce greatly impacts Alison in many ways as he is, practically, reincarnated within her.
Bruce is a very closeted individual who is conflicted within himself. He tries to be a good husband and father but is targeted to physical and emotional frustrations that result in fits of anger or depression.
There are small moments where it seems as though Bruce is sane and content with his life but most of the time he is the opposite. Bruce refuses to listen to Alison or her younger brothers, actors Zell Steele Morrow and Oscar Williams, where he chooses to complain over the museum-like home or Fun Home.
Bruce spends most of his time infatuating over a yard-worker, a former student from his high-school English class or drifting away with the memory of an army buddy.
Bruce’s wife Helen, actress Judy Kahn, painfully tries to maintain her family while knowing the truth of her husband along with his fascinations.
Alison struggles with trying to piece together every possible reason that would lead her father to step into the path of an oncoming truck which is quietly devastating to witness.
There is no surprise that Director Sam Gold truly pulled this one off! It is challenging to perform but the cast made it a fantastic and sentimental experience.