Sara and Norma are back from radio silence with an unfocused, profanity-filled, takedown and/or lovefest on the 2015 Tony Awards. Sara and Norma swap notes, including lamentations over co-hosts Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth, praises of the musical performances, and deal with some of the broadcast’s problems, including their refusal to show the special Tony Awards speeches and the Tesori/Kron win.
Sara and Mariaisabel discuss the brand new Doctor Zhivago musical and the Broadway transfer of Fun Home. From Russia, and lesbians, with love.
Link to our review of Doctor Zhivago.
Please note that we incorrectly refer to one of the actors in Doctor Zhivago as “Paul Nolan Alexander.” His actual name is Paul Alexander Nolan. We hope he forgives us. Because we sort of love him.
Hey everyone! The latest incarnation of Fun Home opened yesterday at the Public Theater. We reviewed it back when it was a Public Lab production. Of course, there are bound to be certain changes, but from the recent reviews I’ve read, much of it has remained the same.
The musical adaptation of Fun Home, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel that I reviewed a few months ago, is one of the most anticipated new works heading to the Broadway stage. Bechdel’s novel is a truly an incredible literary experience that uses its multi-genre form in ways very few writers have achieved (but more on that later). Bechdel has gained quite a following, both for Fun Home and for her work as a lesbian cartoonist. Seeing the Fun Home world on stage would definitely be something to look forward to. Performances sold out far in advance and I was only able to get tickets à la Cancellation Line.
NB- The performance of Fun Home that I saw last night was part of the Public Lab series at the Public Theatre. It is being revised on a daily basis. So tonight’s show will likely include revisions that I did not. And tomorrow night’s show. And the next. And the next. Until November 4th. So please keep in mind that mine was a singular experience and is in no way indicative of the play’s progress.
What’s It About: Graphic novel sequel to Fun Home, which analyzed Bechdel’s relationship with her father, that now analyzes her more abstract relationship with her mom, as well as her most recent experiences as a writer and in therapy.
Why?: Fun Home was awesome!
Thoughts: Though neither of Bechdel’s parents create a nurturing, concrete connection with their children, Fun Home managed to really provide a deep, multifaceted understanding of her father, even though it managed to maintain a wonderfully complex critical distance and narrative voice. Bechdel’s exploration of her sexuality throughout childhood and college found meaning in her own father’s undercover homosexuality and eventual suicide.
Perhaps because this identification doesn’t exist with her mother, Are You My Mother? resorts to a lot more abstract, theoretical distance, such as the pervading discourse on Winnicott’s mother-child psychology (I had to often resort to Wikipedia to understand the concepts Bechdel only briefly defines). Also, this sequel spends a much larger portion of the book on her own life experiences– her early writings and comics, her relationships with various women and her therapists, and her writing of Fun Home. Her mother is largely absent or, when relating discussions, mostly on the phone. Bechdel can’t directly access her mother as much as she did her father, most likely because any relationship she does have with her mother is fraught with artificiality and disapproval.
That being said, I admire Bechdel’s utter honesty about her life and relationships. It must be *just a bit weird* to draw yourself having an orgasm for all your devoted readers to see. I also loved being introduced to various psychological theories and, once I used outside sources to understand them, seeing them applied concretely to life experiences. All in all, though Are You My Mother? is a less fascinating and versatile read than Fun Home, I recommend it highly.