Don Reviews "Fun Home"
Coming out of the closet is a major life event, but when a person gets “outed” by someone else, the emotional trauma can last for years. Even the process of a person preparing to share that information with their loved one can be one of the most frightening experiences one can put themselves through depending on their family situation.
“Fun Home” deals with this as it plays at the Winspear Opera House through September 24th. Written by Lisa Kron with music by Jeanine Tesori, the current production we were able to see stars Robert Petkoff as Bruce, Kate Shindle as the current day Alison, Carly Gold as the young Alison, Abby Corrigan as the college-aged Alison, Susan Moniz as Helen, Luke Barbato Smith as Christian, Henry Boshart as John, Victoria Janicki as Joan and Robert Hager as Roy and 3 other characters. It is the story of Alison, a lesbian cartoonist who tells her tale in a couple of different time lines, as a young child growing up in small town Pennsylvania and college years as she discovers her sexuality, establishing a relationship with Joan. At the same time, she deals with her father, Bruce, who is bi-sexual and has multiple gay affairs, as well as her mother, Helen, who is aware of the affairs but kind of sweeps the issue under the carpet.
There are three major sets here: the childhood home, her college dorm, and her apartment. The switch between the dorm and the childhood home is done with lighting and moving props around, with good use of the props to establish each location with just a little imagination. The plainest set is the apartment, drab and gloomy but fits well with the events that are going on with her father at the time. Overall, there is great usage of the sets, props, and lighting. When it came to the music and singing, it is very good with six members in a music ensemble that are in the back corner of the stage through the whole production. They sound great as they complement the work of the main cast. This is not a long musical where they just worry about the songs and a sub-par plot, but there is an enjoyable song with young Alison and her two young brothers doing a commercial that reminded me of a version of the Jackson 5. The songs they use have great emotion and are at the right points in the production. The tone is great and the music and singing has great balance between the two.
When it comes to the acting, the whole cast does well with no one outshining anyone else. My shout out goes to Petkoff, who does an incredible job with so many emotions in this character he is able to bring out as a man who has done some bad things but minimizes his discretions. All three Allison’s are able to act as if they are the same person. When it comes to the plot, I really enjoyed it, and since this hits a real serious subject that can be taboo for some, it tackles the issue respectfully. The production does a good job of moving back and forth through the time periods. It really builds its base well and has a lot of good comedy, but as it goes on and deals with the serious subjects, the comedy dries up a little too much for me in the third act. This production is not for kids and is almost 2 hours long with no intermission, which I think is a mistake. There are a couple points where I thought they could break and it would not hurt the continuity, but I did enjoy this production and how it tastefully touches a couple taboo issues overall. I would recommend this sitting in the back of the main floor.