Fun Home is a new Broadway musical that tells a very personal story about family and loss. The show is based on the book of the same name, about a lesbian comic book artist coming to terms with her father’s death. Her father was a very complex man and this is a complex show. Not your typical Broadway fare!
It’s extremely well done and satisfying, though also a bit frustrating – just like the story and the main character’s dad.
Michael Cerveris gives a powerful and nuanced performance as the father, a conflicted English teacher who runs a funeral parlor out of his home – aka the “fun home” – and who moonlights in home restoration and homosexuality.
The subject matter is meaty and the one major complaint we had with the show is that this very complex story (told in a very complex and multilayered way – from the present, the past and the very distant past) was crammed into one act. While we are big fans of the one act musical, not every show benefits from that.
While the show is mainly about Alison and her father, Fun Home would be even better if some of the supporting characters were a bit more fleshed out – ESPECIALLY the mother! Judy Kuhn does a great job as the mom, but we wish we knew more about her and what made her tick. Her story is so tied to that of her husband, who cheated on her with countless men, and her daughter.
In real life, Alison Bechdel, whose book Fun Home is based on, wrote a second illustrated memoir all about her mother. We wish some of those elements could have been incorporated into the musical, so that it could feel like a more complete experience.
As it is, the book of the musical, written by Lisa Kron, poses more questions than it answers. This is not a show where everything is going to be spoon-fed for the audience or wrapped up with a bow on top. Like we said, not your typical Broadway fare.
Thankfully, director Sam Gold does a great job of making this show, which began at the Public Theater downtown, feel like a Broadway production. The set, by David Zinn, makes THE MOST of the Circle In The Square Theater and is used in very unexpected and effective ways.
The music, by Jeanine Tesori, with lyrics by Kron, is great.
And the very young and very talented Sydney Lucas, one of three actresses simultaneously playing the lead character, Alison, gives an outstanding performance. DAZZLING! She steals the show!
This little girl is such a star!!!
We wish things ended a bit clearer with Fun Home.
What’s the takeaway? What’s the message? What are we supposed to feel?
That’s life! You don’t always get what you want. And things aren’t always so cut and dry.
Fun Home definitely got us thinking – and feeling!
Quite a great show!