[Review] Fun Home by Pangdemonium

Fun Home is not such a fun home after all, demonstrated through the award-winning musical. The production is adapted from Alison Bechdel’s best-selling autobiography that revolves around her dysfunctional family whilst exploring a range of social issues that have never been more relevant than now; coming out of the closet, embracing one’s identity and self-acceptance – all while dealing with one’s own emotional baggage largely manifested from parental offloading.

The story is illustrated through alternating between three Alisons – Alison in her childhood (Chloe Choo/Elly Gaskell), Alison in college (Elena Wang) and Alison in present day (Nikki Muller). Alison in present day is ruminating on her relationship and memories with her father (Adrian Pang) through the lens of her adolescence and college days.

Bruce, Alison’s father, is depicted as a perfectionist obsessed with portraying himself and the family as the perfect ideal family. This is explored through subtle and explicit ways – such as prompting Alison to wear her barrette to keep her hair out of her face and harshly prioritising presenting a piece of work that is meticulously done rather than, well, fun. As Fun Home unfolds, the audience is let in on the family secret that explains Bruce’s demeanour and complex character.

Brought to us by the proudly Singaporean theatre company, Pangdemonium, the outstanding cast and orchestra has perfectly captured and conveyed the raw emotions felt by the characters. From the purity of father-daughter moments to a poignant closing of regret, the play brought the audience on a journey of self-empowerment and transformative revelations.

The heart of Fun Home, according to Alison Bechdel herself in reference to her book, was the scene of Bruce lifting Alison as a child up in the air with his legs, simulating an “airplane”. My interpretation of the message was this: no matter how dysfunctional one’s family is, it is the same family that has launched us ahead into life to do things that perhaps our parents couldn’t do for themselves.

Pangdemonium has indeed lived up to their motto and kicked-ass in this theatrical production. The 2015 Winner of five Tony Awards, you can catch Fun Home at the Drama Centre Theatre (#03-01, National Library Building) from now till 15 October 2017. Tickets are available here.

by Violet Koh

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