Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bringing Back Faith

It's all fun and games until Michael Cerveris makes you cry.

This past Saturday, I took a friend to see “Fun Home” at the Public Theatre. It’s based on Alison Bechdel’s comic book, about growing up in a funeral home, discovering she was a lesbian and, around the same time, finding out that her father had been secretly gay. It was alternatively heavy and hilarious stuff, the kind of things that make people with daddy issues cry. Michael Cerveris played Alison’s father and gave one of the most nuanced performance I had ever seen on the stage. It was a performance that was all subtext. Here was a man that had lived in the closet his entire life, and could only step a foot out of it when he thought no one else was looking. He was both an attentive father and a dismissive one, who both saw things and didn’t see them. It was masterful, where you could see a glimpse of the real man underneath but you had to first wade through all of the surface in his character.

It was one of those times where I was really happy to have been there, to say, “I saw that and it was awesome!”

Whenever people talk about live performances, they talk about how nothing can replicate it, how TV and film can’t compare to being in a room and sharing the same space with both performers and the other audience member in the room. How the sense of community both informs and enriches the viewing experience.

I think they’re wrong.