Fun Home is a unique twist on the biographical musical.
Lifting its major plot points from the graphic memoir of the same name, we follow the life of cartoonist Alison Bechdel as she grapples with her sexuality, her relationship with her father, and how to navigate life. Told in a series of non-linear vignettes, we flash back and forth through her life, guided by memories of her younger self (in the form of Small and Medium Alison), a beautiful and complex tapestry of a person’s life. Fun Home is also the first Broadway musical to ever feature a lesbian protagonist, and its impact on not only the world of theatre, but representation for the queer community is immeasurable.
A co-production between STC and MTC, the production has finally made its way down to Melbourne after COVID-induced delays. While there have been some casting changes, Adam Murphy is reprising his role as Bruce Bechdel.
Adam Murphy is no stranger to the stage. His theatrical credits are nothing to scoff at, boasting a list of leading roles that traipse all sorts of styles. Some credits include Father in The Production Company’s critically acclaimed production of Ragtime, Fennyman in Shakespeare in Love (MTC), Jafar in Aladdin (The Walt Disney Company), Ron Edgeworth in Georgy Girl (Georgy Girl Productions), and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls (TPC). Now, he takes on Bruce, the often cold and absent father of Alison, and a central force of the story.
Were you familiar with the life of Alison Bechdel before starting on Fun Home?
Adam: Although I had heard of the Bechdel test, I was not familiar with the life of Alison Bechdel before starting on Fun Home. I did some research before rehearsals started by reading the graphic novel and a few articles and was intrigued by her life and family dynamic.
Do you see any of yourself in your character?
Adam: Rehearsing Bruce Bechdel was an interesting process. As his instincts and actions as a husband and father are quite different to mine, I had to imagine what it would be like to have his inner struggles. This led me to discover why he possibly did the things he did.
What has been the most challenging part of working on the show?
Adam: It has been rewarding playing the role of Bruce Bechdel but recreating the characters journey and experiences each night has proven to be challenging vocally, mentally, and physically.
And what about the most exciting?
Adam: The most exciting part of the show is seeing, and hearing audiences react the way they do to this wonderful piece of theatre. I’ve met people after the performance at stage door and they are still wiping tears away after what they’ve seen. It’s such an emotional and uplifting story.
Do you have a favourite song or scene?
Adam: My favourite scene is where 9-year-old Alison is showing her father Bruce a drawing she had done. It’s a great scene as it shows the many colours of Bruce’s character. He goes from being an attentive, nurturing father to an explosive, angry tyrant to a childish, sulking, rejected man.
In your own words, what is the main message of Fun Home?
Adam: I think Fun Home is about a lot of things. It’s about families, secrets, discovery, and love. For me it’s about searching for truth and the acceptance of that real truth.
Fun Home is currently playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse as part of Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2022 season.
Header photo by Jeff Busby