Typically, a night at the theater entails a night full of song, dance, and laughter with the slightest touch of sadness to make your heart clench, before everything is put back together and the protagonist live happily ever after. Fun Home, directed by Sam Gold proves that there are some stories that just don’t end with a happily ever after. The show follows the true story of Alison Bechdel, a lesbian cartoonist and her intricate relationship with her father Bruce, who unknowingly to Alison, was a gay man himself. With a standout performance by Robert Petkoff, Fun Home, now playing at the Orpheum Theatre through December 18th, is a must see.
Throughout the show, Alison is portrayed at three different ages of her life. Kate Shindle, playing the oldest Alison, serves as the narrator throughout the show, while Abby Corrigan shines as Medium Alison, bouncing her way through her first year of college and Alessandra Baldacchino playing Small Alison, during her childhood. All three of the actresses had stand out moments during the show, and all three delivered performances that will leave you covered with goosebumps. But perhaps the most notable performance of the evening was that of Robert Petkoff. His portrayal of Bruce was bone chilling as his character’s story unfolds and we learn who the real Bruce is. Petkoff’s performance left the audience filled with tears after “Edges of of World” and the theatergoers left the theatre with heavy hearts after the surreal performance that is one for the history books.
There were many design elements in Fun Home, one of the biggest being the set. Alison grows up in a house that her father rebuild himself, often calling it a “museum’. In Act 2 there is a moment when the finished home is revealed to the audience, looking like a completely new home compared to the half finished home we see in Act 1. This is a smart stylistic move, we see that since Alison has gone off to college, Bruce has plenty of time on his hands to start thinking about himself and how he could rebuild his life and instead, he rebuild the house. David Zinn did a beautiful job of adding depth to the show without any words needing to be said and the moment the audience sees the completed house for the first time stole the breath out of my lungs.
Fun Home is a beautiful show that captures your heart from the moment the lights dim. It is a story of life, not an unrealistic Disney fairy tale, but of life. Growing up with an imperfect family, the heartbreak of deception,and the confusion of self discovery and honesty. This show beautifully shows that life isn’t perfect and hardships are sure to come, all the while showing what growing is like with different scenes with Small and Medium Alison. The story of Alison and her father is one that will certainly pull at the heart strings.