The sweep of the new musical Far From Heaven is daunting, since it is as much a sociological statement with music and acting as it is a fully formed evening’s entertainment. As such, it picks at the scars left over from the post WWII Eisenhower era, offering tempting insights into what life was really like in the time celebrated by the television series Mad Men. On the surface it was “Morning in America”, as the promise of America was being realized for many, but it was also a terrible time if you chose to think for yourself and not conform.
The musical reopens wounds for those gay men who actually came of age around 1957, and the women some may have married. Like me, they may find Far From Heaven a painful musical to watch, because it recaptures those times so accurately. Oddly enough, the musical’s depictions of 1950′s life are realistic and honest, capturing the artifice perfectly. It was a time when personal authenticity was at its lowest. People behaved as others expected them to, and did not live for themselves, but for some imagined ideal.
Far From Heaven could bring back the excruciating memories for some, while others might wish for a return to the days when homosexuality – the fulcrum upon which the whole story rests – was called “The love that dare not speak its name.”