REVIEW: Next to Normal | Black Swan State Theatre

Image by Gary Marsh
Image by Gary Marsh

Black Swan State Theatre Company ends 2015 on a high note with their final production, acclaimed Broadway hit, Next to Normal.

The anything-but-normal rock musical won a Pulitzer prize for drama, which is fairly rare for musicals at a rate of about one per decade. And BSSTC, like Pulitzer, doesn’t often dabble in musical theatre either, though perhaps this production is evidence they should definitely make a habit of it.

Next to Normal tells the story of a family in the throes of a breakdown brought on by the mother’s  struggle with bipolar disorder and debilitating grief. We watch their happy facade quickly give way to manic behaviour from mother Diane, resentment from daughter Natalie, and denial from father Dan. As Diane seeks different types of treatment ranging from medication to talk therapy and finally to ECT, the family unit is pushed to the brink, and it becomes unclear what (or who) will survive the aftershocks.

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