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BWW Review: FUN HOME at Fulton Theatre

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BWW Review: FUN HOME at Fulton Theatre

The Fulton Theater returns to the mainstage with Fun Home, its first production in over 18 months. While many other local theaters remained dormant during the last year and a half, the Fulton went through a well-deserved metamorphosis. The major construction campaign included updated wing space, dressing rooms, and actors' residences. However, what the average theatergoer will most easily recognize and appreciate is the spacious lobby and plentiful bathrooms. Gone are the days of bumped drinks and long lines to the toilet. The Fulton now has facilities as top-notch as its talent.

Fun Home is a 2015 Broadway musical based on the autobiographical graphic novel by cartoonist, Alison Bechdel. The show tells the story of Alison's childhood and adolescence, her struggles and joys as a lesbian, and her rocky relationship with her father, who was also a homosexual. The title of the show, Fun Home, is a play on words for "funeral home" in reference to the family business and living quarters.


Three actresses play Alison at various stages of her life. Lily Philbrook plays her as a child, Abigail Isom plays her as a college student, and Kate Fahmer plays the adult Alison. Both Philbrook and Isom are good actresses and have numerous opportunities to show a dynamic range of authentic emotions and experiences throughout the night. Fahmer is a Fulton favorite and an accomplished performer, but the role really doesn't tap into her strengths. The adult Alison serves mostly as a silent observer. While she is onstage almost the entire show, she often just sits and passively watches the action.

Jeffrey Coon plays the complex role of Alison's dad, Bruce. At some points, he was a sympathetic character, especially while trying to connect with his children. At other times, he was repulsive, as when he was attempting to pick up underaged boys. The audiences' mixed feelings towards this character is a compliment not only to the show's script, but Coon's range. Life is messy. People are never "all good" or "all bad". We are different things, to different people, at different times. Fun Home understands this completely.

The show has a cast of nine and runs without an intermission. It is a small production and was originally scheduled for the Fulton's fourth floor prior to the pandemic. The transition to the mainstage was relatively successful but could still benefit from additional consideration as to how to take advantage of the extra space.

I feel that the digital projections were a missed opportunity. An immense blank space above the actors' heads was filled up from time to time with images to denote the setting such as a library or a dilapidated house. This helped give the audience something visually interesting to look at, but I think it could have gone a bit farther for maximum effect.

There were multiple times throughout the show when Alison was either drawing, talking about drawing or singing about it. Cartooning is an extremely visual artform. With the brief exception of the show's final image, why not use the digital canvas as Alison's sketchbook?

The Fulton's Fun Home is a show that explores important questions about sexuality, gender, and family relationships. Ironically, it touches upon some of the same themes as the previous show, Kinky Boots, but in a much more somber and ambivalent manner. Just remember, theater that asks important questions seldom provides easy answers.

Tickets and more information can be found on the website. As of the writing of this review, the Fulton required facemasks to be worn by all audience members.


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