Gay dad, lesbian eldest daughter, 3 ages of this daughter, acting concurrently on stage
Nuclear dysfunctional family in the extreme, with 2 other younger brothers and disaffected, detached, disapproving wife/mother, with significant others traipsing through, getting at the truth more than this family ever does, for lack of meaningful communications.
Brilliance on display: daughter is like 10, 18 coming out, and 20, not yet legal to drink, but a cartoonist
And not good enough for exacting father who expects the epitome of career achievement for his eldest…
Father is not only a high school history teacher, but also an undertaker, with his family business, and home restoration expert…BUT he has his secrets and lies, told to those who should not have to bear his burden of shame, for he has had affairs of love, physical love, and trysts, with men everywhere, throughout his marriage to his long suffering wife, who grows embittered, and retreats to a den with a constantly moving piano, as if the piano is an allegory for the changes that inevitably take place throughout.
Against backdrop of loss of life, at a point in Alison Bechdel’s young, formative life, we see each character through the wisdom of her self-acceptance and coming of age, singing her heart out, as well as others, with play, exuberance and heart-breaking finality, unable to reach the height that the father sought, and unaccepting mother, who is left bereft for the choices she has made blindly in life, unaware, and used, unappreciated.
We are not privy to the aftermath of how Alison adjusts after the event, or whether she would understandably get into substance abuse, as escape from the crucible she has emerged from, this household…but we imagine how could she escape that fate? For the seeds of destruction have been sown into her DNA, and twisted so tightly that nothing good in human interaction would likely come from such an upbringing.
Yet we hope for her to do just that: emerge stronger from her chrysalis into beautiful if brief life of being a scarlet and lilac butterfly, with forest green and cobalt blue wings…gorgeous and brief as the fire burns brightly and flames out, for want of love and unconditional approval from the parents who owed it to her, but also had it not to give, due to poor choices made before she was born…
I always tell people that the largest act you do in life is form another human being, and for better and worse, what you put in is what you get out. If you have emerged victorious from your own sordid past life, of dysfunctional family, you may do better than your own parents did, but only if you have the awareness and tools of success…a strong spirituality, good morals, a good example, work ethic, but also putting the family’s needs first…that is crucial. For the result of not caring enough to be honest, and putting work ahead of the children’s needs, with secrets and lies of importance…the fruit of such interaction is likely psychosis, bipolar disorder, borderline personality…as the parents retreat into their separate lives, with nothing but bitterness and three little ones in attendance, watching, absorbing, becoming…and not accepting themselves as who they are, for the shame is inherent in each of them…and must be hidden, except for mama admitting her misery to that eldest daughter, for accepting infidelity upon infidelity, powerless to move on or change herself…trapped in a loveless marriage with congealing 3 kids, into psychotic protoplasm.
Nothing in years reaches this level of excellence in acting and singing…it will win many Tony Awards. Seen on Sunday, Mother’s Day ironically, May 10, 2015. FUN HOME