Black Swan’s Next to Normal

Black Swan’s Next to Normal is emotionally brought to life by the amazingly talented cast assembled by director, Adam Mitchell.

Brendan Hanson, James Bell, Joel Horwood, Rachael Beck, Shannen Alyce. Next to Normal. Image by Gary Marsh
Brendan Hanson, James Bell, Joel Horwood, Rachael Beck, Shannen Alyce in Next to Normal. Image by Gary Marsh

Conveying the complexities and strains of mental illness is no easy task, but the entire ensemble cast perform with the delicate passion required to tackle such a topic. One of the strengths of the musical is its ability to deliver the reverberating effects of mental illness on family: those who must stand by anxiously waiting, watching and desperately trying to help.

Next to Normal, tells the tale of the Goodman family and their battle with depression, bi polar disorder and teenage angst.

Rachael Beck as Diana Goodman swings from mother to manic with an electrifying emotional intensity throughout her performance. She is a mother trying to hold onto the world while slowly falling apart. She presents a different side to her bi polar personality in her interactions with different characters. Her performance of ‘I Miss the Mountains’ was both beautifully haunting and strong.

Beck was playful with Michael Cormick in the roles of Dr Madden and Dr Fine. ‘My pharmacologist and I’ is performed with sexual tension as Beck is whisked around the stage in an office chair (by Cormick) to tango rhythms. Cormick is authoritative as both Madden and Fine, as they perform a balancing act with Diana’s medications.

Shannen Alyce, Joel Horwood. Next to Normal. Image by Gary Marsh
Shannen Alyce and Joel Horwood in Next to Normal. Image by Gary Marsh

Brendan Hanson gives a raw performance as Dan Goodman, the father slowly peeling away an emotional onion as he tries to keep his family together. His voice was full of emotion and power, however Hanson’s delivery of the rock numbers lacked the rock/soul edge.

James Bell commands attention on stage and his raw and sensitive performance as Gabe Goodman is compelling. With a voice that is strong and dramatic, Bell is able to handle a score that oscillates from rock to emotional ballad with ease. Bell and Beck have a real connection on stage as mother and son.

Shannen Alyce and Joel Horwood as the teenage lovers, Natalie and Henry, also share an exciting chemistry on stage and are two performers to watch in the future.

This is a first class cast that delivers a delicate and thought-provoking production of Next to Normal. Don’t miss this chance to see some of Australia’s finest talent perform this Tony and Pulitzer winning show.

Next to Normal plays until Sunday 22 November at the Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre of Western Australia.

Tickets through Ticketek.

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