Next to Normal playing at State Theatre

Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick.
Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick.

SO what is normal?

Only a small proportion of this new Black Swan Theatre production.

As with traditional opera, there is no spoken dialogue throughout but even in the vocalised speech some will be deemed inappropriate in its alternative use of language.

Crudity enhances neither descriptiveness nor beauty.

Well-known on the local opera and music scene, the delightful voice of Brendan Hanson reinforces his kindly personality as Dan Goodman, loving and supportive husband of the sometimes difficult Diana (Rachael Beck) suffering from worsening bipolar disorder, despite the collection of pills swallowed daily.

Father to maturing and potentially experimental teenager Natalie (very talented WAPPA graduate Shannen Alyce) is no easy task.

Dan arranges for Diana to see Dr Fine (the gorgeous voice and sometimes creepy personality of Michael Cormick) who prescribes hypnotherapy to electro convulsive therapy with unexpected results.

More distress, loss of memory depression, reversion to previous lives – normal proves to be continually elusive for poor Diana.

Meanwhile young Natalie does not help anyone with her own experimentations.

Director Adam Mitchell certainly has his capable hands full in this search for normality amidst insanity in varying degrees – all set to recitative with some notable songs, bizarre as they are.

Under the direction of David Young at the keyboard, the handful of musicians give excellent support to this Pulitzer Prize-winning unique rock opera.

All is not lost as the brilliance of lighting craftsmen Trent Suidgeest’s Hope of Light floods this talented and largely local cast.

By Odna Borlaug.

WHAT: Next to Normal.

WHERE: State Theatre, Perth.

WHEN: Until November 22.