If you're looking for emotional and original storytelling, rich music, incredible and intricate stage production, top-notch acting from both veteran and young actors, Fun Home is the play to see. How, you may ask, does one musical pull off so much? By making it look easy and effortless.
At all times during the show, there are three, four, sometimes five things going on simultaneously, yet somehow your attention remains steady on the action of the given moment. Based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, this autobiographical tale is staged brilliantly in the theatre in the round of Circle in the Square Theatre. Bechdel's story, adapted by Lisa Kron and featuring a wonderful musical accompaniment led by Jeanine Tesori, covers so much ground and territory that you can hardly believe it's squeezed into just 100 minutes with a full score to boot.
We get glimpses that feel all too real into the childhood, young adulthood, and current day versions of the protagonist. She stumbles and suffers throughout her younger years coming to terms with own sexuality and the lifestyle her parents have set for her, but she prevails. It's a wonder how she makes it through the turbulent times without severe wounds. Her grace and stability stand out in spite of improbable odds.
Alison's father, Bruce (Michael Cerveris) is the center of her universe and also, unfortunately, her pain and confusion. A bit of a know-it-all, he counsels her without her asking, as she strives to gain his approval and his affection. We learn early on that Bruce spent most of his life in the closet, and we must accept that his bad behavior and destructive decisions are closely tied to repression of his true self. Cerveris is so believable in this role that at times you'll have to fight the impulse to get up and physically shake him out from the spell he's under.
There's so much to like here. Director Sam Gold stages a masterpiece that will leave you wanting to find out more about Bechdel's early life and how she coped with all of the trauma. The ending of the play is just a springboard to a longer conversation and supreme analysis.