Chad Reviews "Fun Home"
It’s a fairly common occasion where a written work makes its way to the stage, as it is the origin of theatre from the ancient Greek tragedies and the many works of William Shakespeare. With the advent of modern literature, Broadway began finding more home-grown forms of inspiration from icons of pop culture found like Annie, Charlie Brown, and even Spider-Man (we don’t like to talk about that last one). As storytelling kept finding ways to evolve, so did the ways in which stories could be conveyed on stage including the more modern method of the graphic novel. At one time considered just a convenient way to repackage a particular run of a storyline in comics, the graphic novel became a unique way to either tell a standalone story in an established story arc or a completely original story as authors and artists either collaborated together or fulfilled both duties themselves to put their thoughts on paper. Author and artist Alison Bechdel chose to chronicle the story of her incredibly dysfunctional upbringing in “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” which has been adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Fun Home,” playing at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas through September 24th.
Alison’s story is told from the perspectives of her childhood (Carly Gold), her early college years (Abby Corrigan), and present day (Kate Shindle). Throughout the course of the story, Alison attempts to not just discover who she is but also unravel the enigma of her relationship with her father, Bruce (Robert Petkof), as they both struggle with their relationship with each other as well as their own sexual identities. Alison does her best to cope with the not just the changes that she is going through, but also her daily struggles as her family threatens to come apart at the seams.
This is an incredibly tough production to pinpoint an opinion on because it is a story that is both incredibly powerful and heart wrenching. Anybody that’s ever dealt with being a part of a broken family, been touched by bouts of depression, dealt with suicide, or witnessed the struggles of someone attempting to come to grips with coming out to their family, will find this hitting extremely close to home. I found it odd that the production is marketed as an almost light hearted family friendly romp as it is ANYTHING but that. Since I walked into this production completely cold and naïve as to what the story entailed as I have done every once in a while in the past, this is the first time I truly regretted that decision as I was not prepared for the gut punch that “Fun Home” delivered. It is a raw and unfiltered look at a family that is struggling not just to get along with each other but also to stay sane amidst all the insanity that tears away at them on an almost daily basis. I can’t say I enjoyed “Fun Home” as much as I just survived it, and it is a production that will stick with me for quite some time.