By Bob Evans
The title of the show and TV commercials definitely mislead an unsuspecting public about the story that “Fun Home” brings to the stage in the current production that opened May 30 at The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“Fun Home” deals with homosexuality and the devastation it caused in a family in Pennsylvania in or around the 1970s. The subject of homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism were not dining room table topics, and those dealing with those thoughts and lifestyles lived in darkness, secrecy, and the shadows. For one particular family, the subject of “Fun Home,” the sexual urges surface at inappropriate times and leave scars and the feelings of isolation, secrecy, and shame.
The show uses the themes of a disease that’s curable with psychiatric counseling, ignore it and it will go away, and face it with all the consequences. None of those options were easy then or now. Some of society still clings to the idea that LGBT issues are “curable.”
“Fun Home” tells the story of a family dealing with serious issues. The main character is Alison, seen at three stages of her life. At times, all three Alison’s appear onstage, but the show is crafted in a way that it’s not confusing and actually assists the audience in piecing the puzzle together.
Alison tells the story as an adult and recalls certain memories of her past and her memories of her family–predominately her father. As Alison works through the story, the relationships of her parents come into play as she examines the past in search of closure. Homosexuality affected her life. She seeks understanding through her cartoons and memories.
“Fun Home” examines many real issues, but leaves many holes and unanswered questions. “Based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel” means the musical is adapted from another medium. That may explain some of the missing pieces in this short musical.
Overall, the show has a compelling story to tell. “Fun Home” certainly is not appropriate for younger audiences, even though the language is not overly strong, the subject matter and theme are adult-oriented.
The best characters in the play are the medium size Alison and the adult Alison. Those parts are more fully developed and allow the actresses to develop the characters. The other characters are mainly flat characters with little change as the story develops.
“Fun Home” continues its one-week run at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets, contact Theater League of Kansas City at their website.
Tags: Theater League of Kansas City, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, “Fun Home”, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment