Maybe it was inevitable that someone would come up with a musical addressing issues such as Bipolar Disorder, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Brian Yorkey (book & lyrics) and Tom Kitt (music) don’t mess around; from the opening song Just Another Day, which concludes with suburban housewife Diana (Caissie Levy) laying out slices of bread across the floor to make sandwiches, it is clear that there is something wonky in her mental state.
While son Gabe (Jack Wolfe) and daughter Natalie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) flit in and out of the action, husband Dan (Jamie Parker) hovers solicitously and gently coaxes her back to ‘normal’.
As her condition deteriorates and it becomes clear that one of the characters is not quite what they appear to be, increasingly invasive treatments are advised by her two doctors – both played superbly by Trevor Dion Nicholas.
Fistfulls of pills and ECT lead to memory loss and fantasy as she gravitates from emotional dependence to self-imposed isolation.
READ MORE ‘A few wry smiles and a couple of gentle cringes’ – Theatre Camp review
This slick and sassy musical charting a life lived in the enigmatic agony of bipolar disorder is virtually sung through, punctuated by brief snatches of dialogue.
Punched up by Broadway smarts in the lyrics, the diverse music from the accomplished band above the stage shifts with an imperceptible effort from show tune pastiche to urban hoedown and from fragile-as-glass lament to guitar-driven opera rock with full-fat emotional content.
A brashly confident work on a difficult subject, it benefits from the outstanding performances of actors/singers who deliver on every level.
Next To Normal, Donmar Theatre until October 7, Tickets: 020 3282 3808
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