POST: 'Fun Home' - her family wasn't perfect
What's it about?
The musical circles around Alison at three different stages of her life. She takes us on a journey to help find her identity, within the midst of her abnormal family.
What'd I experience?
It's a circled stage, there's no way I'm missing any part of this show. It was like I was about to witness a ring fight of some sort, weird to compare it to that. Luckily though, the stage included furniture, especially antique furniture. It had been a while since I had seen those types of wood and floral prints. It resembled a home from an older time, which brought me back to my childhood home where we had beautiful antiques. It felt nice to remember it for a bit, you could even say it relaxed me.
Pretty soon, young Alison walks into the room with her father. They seemed to have a pretty fair father-daughter relationship. I didn’t really understand why there was one person in the middle of the stage, just looking at the rest of the characters. Skinny, short hair, with round glasses, in oversized burgundy t-shirt, faded jeans and sneakers. She looked very interested in the interaction between young Alison and her father, Bruce. That was until she said “caption,” I quickly realized this was present Alison.
The show was a memory of her's. She captioned these moments with her dad, in order to point out her views and explore her perspectives from then and now. When she realized that her father was leaving in the middle of the night she quickly gets up and questions him. She didn’t understand what he was doing…”where are you going?”…”to get a newspaper” a senseless answer. I felt like I understood her at this age, I experienced the same thing that she did. Lies from your parents, covering who knows what for whatever reasons.
There were points where I noticed how unstable the relationship between Alison’s parents stood. Yeah, they appeared fine for a while trying to fulfill each other’s needs to the best of their ability, more so from Helen than Bruce. They convinced me of being these wonderful parents for their children, which was the fact that made me turn my head. As things start to unfold, it becomes clear that Bruce is really gay. Nothing wrong with the fact. What was wrong was everything else, to me it seemed. There was Helen, knowing this, but yet trying to hold up the family. It seemed to me like she held hope for what they might have been once, a happy family. But from Bruce’s side, I saw all the opposite. He wanted to enjoy himself and the fact that Helen knew about it, for so long now, was probably what made him careless of her even more.
I couldn’t help the fights between my thoughts. I criticized Helen for being selfless and not understanding her worth as a woman. Then again, I thought about the oppressions that might have been going on in society at that time, and most importantly that she was doing it mostly for her children. At the same time, I put myself in young Alison’s shoes, standing in the middle of confusion. Noticing things that don’t really make sense and then having your parents trying to make it all seem fine, you’re left puzzled. Coming from a situation similar to hers, the question becomes, what is right and what is wrong?
In the middle of it all, middle Alison also comes into the picture while she is in high school. At this point there is whole lot going on in her mind... questioning her sexuality. There are flashbacks to when she was little and how she hated wearing dresses. She wanted to convince herself that she was a straight girl. Pretty quickly she catches herself reading books about lesbians, and through them she discovers who she is. The real revelation comes when one of her friends from the "Gay Union" comes right out and kisses her. This time she has no doubt that she definitely likes other girls, and does not try to convince herself otherwise. Watching this scene was something that seemed very natural. I don't think I've ever witnessed someone come out the way she did, towards herself. At the same time, she had courage enough to let her parents know. I admired her for being a strong person and not letting society identify her, not letting her family either. I thought about the many people I know who still struggle with this situation, and the truth is it isn't easy.
Although hard, especially for Alison's mother to recognize who her daughter was, she listened. At this point, I thought, "Is this woman really accepting her child?" To me the fact that she already dealt with her husband's situation for so long, didn't make her seem she was at all satisfied with Alison's declaration. In fact, it was like she didn't care anymore. It was at this moment when she decided to let it all out and let Alison know who her dad was. Honestly speaking though, she seemed so stotic that I had question marks all around. "That was it?" I asked myself. It seemed, like suddenly the battle was just over. I mean ok, I got the fact that now her kid is all grown up and it's different. She'd understand now? But perhaps what bothered me was that there was no sign of affection for Alison. SMH
Overall, Alison had discovered... many things. She learned not to deny who she was... there was nothing to be ashamed of. She learned that her family wasn't perfect. Her confusions were cleared up, because she grew up. It's funny to think that right now, I'm on this same transition.