Near the top of the musical Fun Home, the central protagonist Alison turns to the audience and nonchalantly says: “Caption: Dad and I both grew up in the same, small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I became a lesbian cartoonist.”
Lucy Maunder and Adam Murphy in Fun Home. Photograph © Prudence Upton
There in a nutshell is the story we are about to be told, but it’s nowhere near as simple as those boldly stated facts. Instead, Alison, now a successful 43-year old cartoonist and graphic writer, takes us back and forth in time as she recalls scenes from her life as a child and a college student, while she gradually pieces together a graphic memoir.
In a way, it’s a double plot as her life and that of her father Bruce run parallel, interact and (crucially) diverge, when she openly embraces her sexuality and he tries to keep his hidden.
Fun Home is a beautiful, sensitive, insightful, innovative and heart-breaking musical, addressing themes including sexual identity, family, memory, truth and lies, and suicide....