We want to be normal. We need to be normal. We constantly calibrate our lives to land within the safe, normal margins of being. Try as we might to protect ourselves, however, tragedy can interrupt at any moment, shattering even the most elaborately constructed facades. The Transport Group's ambitious new musical, Normal, brings us up close to a quintessentially normal American family disrupted by a daughter's eating disorder. Although it sometimes veers dangerously close to cheesiness, this production is ultimately an immensely rewarding exploration of a family in crisis. Normal courageously exposes fractured lives and messy situations, where glaring abnormality has the power to precipitate epiphanies.
The Freemans are an emphatically normal nuclear family (father, mother, son, daughter), and they first appear to be quite cartoonish. They sing and dance in unison in the opening number, "Happy Family," but their disconnection from one another quickly becomes apparent. When teenage Polly (Erin Leigh Peck) tries to talk to her mother, Gayla (Barbara Walsh), over the sound of her hair dryer, they both stare straight ahead without making eye contact.
Soon Polly succumbs to the forces of peer pressure