Theater Review - Fun Home (NY)
The newest musical in town, “Fun Home,” is thrilling audiences at the Public Theater on Lafayette Place. It is based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, an avowed lesbian, writer and cartoonist. She tells the story in her memoir of growing up in an unusual household, where her unique father, Bruce, dominated. She adored this multi-talented man, who was a high school English teacher; he also ran a funeral home, and was a restorationist, working and remodeling their old home so that it looked like a fine museum. Unfortunately, he was a gay man in the era when this was kept a secret. His affairs with younger men tortured his wife, Helen, but she did not leave him until late in the marriage. He then committed suicide!
Lisa Kron, responsible for book and lyrics, has taken this difficult subject matter and told it lucidly through the eyes of three Alisons: Small Alison, played brilliantly by Sydney Lucas, who appears to be about 10 years old; medium Alison, who depicts the high school/college age, played by the very engaging Alexandra Socha; and the mature Alison, Beth Malone, who is looking back and trying to make sense of the story, both hers and her family’s. Aided and abetted by Jeanine Tesori’s expressive atonal music, performed by a fine musical ensemble, and director Sam Gold, who keeps the action edgy, the technique works.
Michael Cerveris is outstanding as the mercurial Bruce, charming and always in denial. Judy Kuhn’s Helen, a pianist, shows off her skills as a long-suffering wife with dignity. Roberta Colindrez is effective as Joan, Alison’s first love connection, and the children, Griffin Birney as Christian and Noah Hinsdale as John are adorable.
David Zinn’s set, lit by David Stanton, and costumes, are interesting. Danny Medford’s Chorography full of wit and humor; the dancing among the caskets is first rate. I am sorry that the songs are not listed in the Playbill. “Fun Home” was not really a fun home--- and it is displays lesbianism in good taste but graphically. This is not child’s play, although Sydney Lucas is a standout. At the Public Theater.