Review: Fun Home

Vol. 1 No. 3

11 Feb. 2022

Slated to open in Melbourne in July 2020, I am pleased to announce that “Fun Home” has finally arrived onstage at the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne.  With a slightly different cast as was intended for the production in 2020 you will not be disappointed by the casting for this 2022 production.

Nominated for ten Tony Awards in 2015 “Fun Home” won five including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.

The story is based on the true-life events of the graphic cartoonist Alison Bechdel as illustrated in her 2006 autobiographical “tragicomic” book, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”. Bechdel was born in 1960 and the recollections portrayed in the musical start from the age of ten (1970). Thinking back to this period one might label her family “dysfunctional” with a demanding father who is hiding his gay tendencies while teaching high school English, collecting and restoring “antiques” and running a FUNeral Home. There is a mother bound by marriage to an abusive husband and three children (one daughter and two sons) who as young children are both entertained and confused by their father’s varying behaviour and habits. It is when Alison finally goes away to college (university) that she discovers who she really is.

Today, so much of what Alison tells us of her past is out in the open. It is fortunate that we hear stories like Alison’s. Unfortunately, her story is just one of the many that we hear today regarding family issues dealing with sexual and gender identity and domestic abuse. In 2022 the definition of “happy families” is very different from what it was in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Alison’s “coming out” was very difficult for her despite the fact that her father was gay. We get only a small but powerful glimpse of how Alison’s mother was coping with her husband’s philandering and her daughter’s sexuality, but now that these issues are out there for all, families like the Bechdel’s are not “dysfunctional” they are part of the norm that make for confronting family and personal issues that so many live with every day.

Lisa Kron’s script and lyrics combined with Jeanine Tesori’s intelligent, melodic and playful musical score will captivate you for the 100 minutes length of this excellent production. Every actor has been well cast. The three Alisons work beautifully together. Adam Murphy’s acting and singing just gets better and better each time I see him perform, and Silvie Paladino’s interpretation of “Days and Days” will bring a tear to your eye. (I can’t wait to hear her sing “There Is Music in You” in the upcoming production of “Cinderella” coming to the Regent Theatre in late March.)

Fun Home – Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne /7 February-5 March 2022/ https://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/whats-on/season-2022/fun-home/

Music by Jeanine Tesori; Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron; Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel; Directed by Dean Bryant; Musical Director: Mathew Frank; Cast: Lucy Maunder, Adam Murphy, Ursula Searle, Silvie Paladino, Emily Havea, Euan Fistrovic Doidge, Flora Feldman, Sophie, Issac, Teja Kingi, Jasper Hall, Luka Sero, Sebastian Sero, Edgar Stirling, Aidan Synan, Jai D’Alessandro

© Henry Sachwald

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