"next to normal" by Brian Yorkey (Music by Tom Kitt) is one of the most emotionally vivid pieces of theater I've read. The winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "next to normal" is a work of honest, raw feelings and emotions carried forward by a dri...ving rock score and well-drawn, three-dimensional characters. The play centers around a suburban family (father, mothers, son, daughter) dealing with the mother's depression and bipolar disorder. The mother is vivacious and damaged, the father is stoic and tired, the son lively and malicious, the daughter a perfectionist living in his shadow. The subject matter alone makes the play stand-out but what takes it to a higher level is its pure honesty. All the characters are three-dimensional and react in real, fully realized ways to the situations put before them. You really get the sense that these characters have full, rich lives beyond the confines of the play and are not merely created for our own entertainment. The lyrics are not necessarily clever but convey that honesty of feeling and action. The narrative is unique in that its course of action is not inevitable but is merely one way in which these characters could have reacted to such difficult circumstances. While I have not seen the play and only listened to its score, I can say without reservation that the work is a profound and excellent piece of theater.
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