Imagine a night following another’s memories. Now imagine a night filled with laughter, seriousness, and sadness. Combine the two together and you get Fun Home. Fun Home is a graphic memoir, written by Alison Bechdel, which was adapted into a musical production. While Alison herself had no part in the creative processes of the production, Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron were able to take all of the bitter, raw emotions packed into the book and transform them onto the stage. The musical won 5 Tony awards and has been greatly esteemed by many. The story follows Alison as an adult looking back on her life, especially her relationship with her closeted gay father, while in the process of writing her memoir. Alison is portrayed at three different ages. One when she was young maybe 8 or 9. Another when she was a new college student, and finally her as an adult.
Since the production was based on memories it had no specific chronological order but flowed from memory to memory. It starts out with Alison, played by Kate Shindle, looking at some of her Father’s things and remembering when he first had gotten them. You are transported into the memory as Small Alison, played by Alessandra Baldacchino and her Father, Bruce, played by Robert Petkoff, going through the box together. While Alison is an onlooker of the memory she is not a part of it, almost as if she were trying to distance herself from it. Small Alison did a very good job throughout the performance portraying someone who doesn’t yet know who they are yet. She seemed comfortable singing and acting as did the other child actors.
The memory then goes to Medium Alison at college. Medium Alison, played by Abby Corrigan is more sure of herself but is trying to navigate the question of whether or not she is gay. While she has a better idea of who she is, Medium Alison is quirky, awkward, and but still slightly unsure. Abby Corrigan did a fabulous job showing the evolution of her relationship with Joan, her girlfriend, played by Karen Eilbacher. She was very good at singing pouring her heart into the songs she sang.
By the end Medium Alison had learned her father was gay, had gone home to visit, and Alison was completely engrossed in her memories. She knew what was coming. Her father was going to commit suicide and she could do nothing to stop it. At the point when Medium Alison could have potentially stopped her father’s death, Alison was no longer a bystander. She was in her memories.
The song at the end Flying Away symbolized for me the merge between all 3 of Alison’s ages into one. She took elements of those ages out with her back to the real world, where she is just writing a book on her life not reliving it. Fun Home gives a real presentation of what life is actually like. It is messy, sad, happy and a whole bunch of other emotions all mixed together but in the end it is hopeful. Fun Home was an incredible show, as evidenced by the immediate standing ovation, but it left you thinking about life in a slightly different way.