Includes some mixed nuts stuff -- and not filtered this time; I think it's important to put it out there.
This afternoon, my roommate and I went to see the musical, Next to Normal
, at the Kimmel Center
. My reaction to the show is... mixed. And the subject matter hits close enough to home that I feel like I need to post about it.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it's about a "typical" suburban American family who are trying to hold it together in the face of mental illness. The lead character, Diana, the wife and mother, has been struggling with bipolar disorder for sixteen years. We see her symptoms growing worse as she tries to understand and treat her illness while coping with her own not-entirely-satisfactory life and trying to be "sane" for her family. The story examines the effects of mental illness on both the individual and the family as well as questioning the concept of "normal".
Brian Yorkey, the dude who wrote the story and lyrics, wanted to move radically away from mental illness as it tends to be sensationalized in the media and the resulting notion that it's something that only happens to tortured artists and serial killers. He apparently did a pretty extensive amount of research and interviewed both patients and doctors in his attempts to make the story as "authentic" as possible. (I'm paraphrasing/summarizing from this article
, which is worth a read for its remarks on mental illness, misinformation, and stigma.)
Upon seeing the show myself, I'm not certain he succeeded. Although the situation he presents is very real, it still manages to be sensationalized and misrepresentative. Rather than helping to remove stigma about mental illness, this show might only be serving to bolster it.( Here's why. )
Final note after all of that: This is, I believe, only the second time I've blatantly "outed" myself as a person with bipolar disorder here in my journals. It's certainly no deep, dark secret, but I tend not to tell people about it until they've got to know me a little bit -- because of exactly
the sort of misconceptions and stigma I talked about up there. ::points:: Anyway. I do keep a "mixed nuts" filter where I sometimes talk about what's going on with me and the loose screws in my head. Anyone who isn't on it but would like to be is more than welcome to say so and I'll happily add you. In all honesty, it's usually pretty boring there! Far more boring than this musical would have you believe. ;)Jeez, all of this and I haven't even made it to an actual review of the show beyond this aspect yet. o_O