Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 19, 2022

REVIEW: TheaterWorks, "Fun Home"

TheaterWorks, Hartford, CT
through November 6, 2022
by Rebecca Phelps
Photo by Mike Marques
Who knew that such a fraught story: a gay, closeted 60 something-ish Dad who commits suicide, and his relationship with his gay daughter who is struggling with her own identity, could be so much FUN!? Really! 

Under the experienced direction of Rob Ruggiero, music director Jeff Cox, and the rest of the production crew, TheaterWorks pulls off this unimaginable feat with a beautifully rendered production of "Fun Home". Every element of the show fits together perfectly in the intimate, black box-like venue. One is drawn into the home and the family with a carefully appointed, spare set, with minimal but important elements including a real coffin (in addition to being an English teacher Dad is also a funeral director - hence "Fun [funeral] Home"). 

The production creates the feel of its graphic novel origins (Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic) by using projections of handwriting and sketches from Alison Bechdel's own notebooks. The gorgeous musical score, written by highly acclaimed Jeanine Tesori, is superbly performed by every actor in the show as well as the first-rate pit band which is hidden behind a backdrop. 

A relatively short show it is 95-minutes played straight through without intermission and kept buoyant and engaging by the steady dose of humor laced throughout. The moment youngest Alison, played by Skylar Lynn Matthews, walks on the stage by herself to open the show, with all her confidence and command of the stage, you know you are in for something unusual and wonderful. The show culminates in a glorious trio sung by the three Alisons, sending us off with a message of self-acceptance and the freedom to fly.