Fun Home: Young Vic, London
Reviewed 30th June 2018
Winner of 5 Tony Awards, the Broadway hit Fun Home premieres in the UK this summer at the Young Vic Theatre. Based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 Graphic Memoir Fun Home, this musical adaptation tells the story of Alison at three stages of her life as she comes to term with her own sexuality, her relationship with her gay father and her attempts to unlock the mysteries around his life. With original music by Jeanine Tesori and superb book and lyrics by Lisa Kron this is one of the must see transfers of the year.
This production is full of heart and emotion from the very start. Harriet Turnbull as Small Alison is a revelation. For someone so young she is able to convey a range of emotions and paired with the dark, emotions and downward spiral shown from Zubin Varla, Alison’s father Bruce, she excels. One of the standout performances of the show comes from Eleanor Kane as Medium Alison. She mixes just the right amount of teenage awkwardness and humour with true emotion, particularly during the final scenes. The entire cast are stand out actors and the emotion conveyed during the show leaves most audience members gulping back tears when the house lights come up.
Whilst this is a musical, it is not actually the music which makes this show work so well. It is the story and amazing storytelling that makes this piece stand out from the crowd. It is a show with a theme which many can relate to. Whilst not all families are as complex and troubled as Alison’s, we all have relationships with those we love that are not always clear-cut. We all grow up and learn to find ourselves and in turn find out about those who have brought us up – and for some, these will be confronting.
The set design by David Zinn is clever and allows the actors to shine. The exquisite props and use of the revolve to create different spaces works extremely well. In addition, the use of a stark white backdrop towards the latter part of the show really works to highlight the intensively of emotion and the growing struggle between characters. The lighting, by Ben Stanton, further enhances this.
Direction by Sam Gold allows the audience to be transported into Alison’s story. The tension is tangible as we find out more about the characters and as the emotion onstage builds. Modern day Alison, played by Kaisa Hammarlund, who acts as the narrator throughout the show is crucial and adds a clever comic element to, at points, a hard-hitting show.
This show tackles lots of issues but family and relationships are at the crux of it. Emotional and heartfelt, Fun Home will make you consider your own history and relationships. It stands out from the shows currently on stage in London at the moment – it is raw, fresh, current and power of storytelling is outstanding. Definitely do not miss this!
Fun Home is playing at the Young Vic, London until 1st September 2018. For information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner