Next To Normal
19 September 2023
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Next To Normal, currently running at the Donmar Warehouse, is quite the musical!
The story revolves around Diana, a mother with bipolar, trying to grapple with daily life after a devastating loss, and her less than supportive husband who just wants things to be normal. Struggling through family life, loss, therapy, and a variety of treatments, Diana has to find herself in a world that isn’t built for mental health issues. Her daughter feels abandoned in the midst of all the turmoil, especially when Diana finally faces the truth of her past and tries to find her own way through all the difficulties.
A mix of everyday family issues, and the struggle with mental health, Next To Normal is an unusually insightful and emotional look at non-conforming life in a harsh world. With many deeply emotional moments, the story is moving, at times confusing and painful, at times soothing and hopeful. The intense soundtrack runs through the highs and lows of Diana’s life and swallows the audience whole. Gripping and emotionally overwhelming, the show had me, and many other patrons, in tears by the end.
Surprisingly there are uplifting moments in unexpected circumstances, balancing out the devastating and disorienting wealth of Diana’s emotional journey. A fantastic new musical, Next To Normal is a masterclass in approaching mental health from the affected person’s perspective, rather than making them a side character whose actions are solely viewed from other character’s development. It puts Diana front and centre and gives her agency in a world that wants to strip her of it. If you’re willing to go on a wild and deeply touching journey, I cannot recommend this show enough.