I went to the opening night of Seattle's production of Next to Normal, the amazing Tony-winning dramatic musical about a bipolar mother, her family, her delusions, her therapy, and her slow, painful growth. Components: amazing 3 story set, great singing, great score (though a little loud), believable story, believable characters (even the imaginary one), and the best song about psychotropic medications that I've ever heard.
The writer, Brian Yorkey, has done his homework about the disorder and its effects on spouses, kids, family dynamics, and frustrated practitioners. His take on the etiology, genetics, exacerbated by trauma, is plausable. He's got an over-functioning husband, who tries to keep his wife from expressing her real pain. The daughter, also over-functioning, is isolated, ashamed of her family, fearful of trusting or leaning on others.
The pills only treatment in the beginning turns into four-day-a-week analysis turns into the new two-week long, daily mini-electroshocks. (See http://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/treatment/ect-electroconvulsive-therapy-for-bipolar-disorder/menu-id-67/ )
The play is devastating and often funny. It gets into every character's head and makes you care for them in their struggles. I cried through a lot of it, reminded of clients, friends, and family members who have struggled with this awful disease. My friend Janis, who doesn't have the same job or history, cried just as much, when we weren't laughing. I haven't seen a piece of theater that has moved me so much since Tony Kushner's Angels In America, 16 years ago.
And the therapist didn't sleep with the client! That alone made it better than nearly every movie or play about psychotherapy. I so wanted to drag each character out and do EMDR on their issues. But EMDR would be extremely boring on the stage.
Go see this play!
Too bad we didn’t see each other at opening night! I hope between the two of us we can drum up some extra audience members for this excellent play.