Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fun Home ****

Since I first saw this musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s revered graphic novel in an early preview at the Public Theater in 2013, it has improved dramatically. Lisa Kron’s book now seems tighter and more coherent and Jeanine Tesori’s songs seem better integrated into the action. Sam Gold has skillfully reworked the staging to play to the audience on all four sides of Circle in the Square’s awkward rectangular stage. David Zinn’s wonderful set has been fitted out with multiple trapdoors that whisk furniture out of sight and back in a flash and his costumes are evocative. The Bechdel family lives in the funeral home that barely closeted father Bruce (the always compelling Michael Cerveris) has inherited. He is much more interested in restoring the home and entertaining handsome young men than in attending to his wife Helen (the wonderful Judy Kuhn). His daughter Alison comes out as a lesbian at college. Her hopes for a closer relationship with her father are thwarted. Alison is played by three fine actresses — Sydney Lucas as a child, Emily Skeggs as a college freshman, and Beth Malone as the 43-year-old cartoonist who is telling the story. Lucas has shot up a bit in two years, which puts a slightly different spin on her role. Skeggs is not quite as good as her predecessor Alexandra Socha, but good enough. Malone seemed more engaged this time out. She is still so thin that I feared for her health, but that’s my problem. Roberta Colindrez is fine as Joan, Alison’s first lover, and Joel Perez is good as several young men Bruce fancies. As at the Public, the audience was primed to enjoy the play no matter what. Fortunately their enthusiasm was deserved. Running time: one hour, 40 minutes; no intermission.

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