A Very Enjoyable 'Rabbit Hole'
'NEW MILFORD — David Lindsay-Abaire, who won Awards for his work as the 4uthor and lyricist for the musical Shrek, wrote Rabbit Hole on the advice of one of his teachers at Juilliard, who told him to write a play about "something that frightened him." As a father, he came up with the idea of a story about a husband and wife who lose their only child in a freak car accident.
The resulting work, which is currently in production at TheatreWorks New Milford, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama without ever having been nominated. After considering the three plays which had been nominated as finalists, the .Pulitzer board voted to scrap them all and turned instead to Lindsay-Abaire's work and awarded it The Prize.
That was a very wise decision. Powerful, enthralling and humane, Rabbit Hole is both painfully real, and heartbreakingly funny.
Becca and Howie are an attractive and successful young couple whose life was upended on a spring day when their four-year old son darted out into the street in pursuit of his dog, which was chasing a squirrel, and was struck and killed by a 17-year-old boy driving to school.
Eight months later, they are still wrestling with profound and intractable grief, which is tearing at the fabric of their marriage. Howie seems to find some comfort in his work, in a support group for bereaved parents, and in a weekly game of squash.
Becca's pain is too great to allow her to connect with anyone. She stalks about the room, compulsively folding and refolding a laundry basket of their son's clothes, snapping angrily at her husband, her mother, and her bouncy, bad-girl kid sister, while cutting herself off from her former best friend, because the friend still has children, so what would they have to talk about?
Oddball characters—including the sister (and failed waitress) Izzy and mother Nat —emerge as real human beings of dignity and decency, as they begin to connect with one another, and we see, 'after two acts and a number of scenes within each, that the possibility of comfort does exist.
There are some fine performances in this TheatreWorks production, under the skilled direction of Suzi Pettibone. In particular, Denver transplant Heather Nicolson is delightful as the ravenously hungry, somewhat scatterbrained but genuinely caring Izzy.
Veteran performer Sonnie Osborne does a fine job as Nat, and Kevin Sosbe makes a welcome return to the stage in the role of Howie.
The cast is rounded out by Jackie Decho-Holm as Becca, and Rob Onorato as Jason, the high school boy who dedicated a story to Danny, about an alternate universe existing in rabbit holes, where the bad things that happened in this life can be changed.
Erik D. Diaz has created a marvelous set that includes the kitchen, living room and child's bedroom of a Westchester suburban home that was once happy.
Kudos to TheatreWorks for taking on such an ambitious and worthwhile project. This is definitely worth going to see.