Monday, April 21, 2008

Rabbit Hole

Mark and I went to see the Pittsburgh Public Theaters production of the play 'Rabbit Hole' on Saturday night. 'Rabbit Hole' was written by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. I had not heard of him before but he has received 5 Tony Award nominations and is currently working on the book and lyrics for the Broadway-bound musical 'Shrek'. He is also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming movie 'Inkheart' and is also bringing 'Rabbit hole' and one of his other plays 'Kimberly Akimbo' to the screen as well. I believe that Mr. Lindsay-Abaire is about to become very well-known indeed!

When Lindsay-Abaire was at school at Julliard he was told that if you want to write a really good play, write about the thing that scares you the most. At the time he didn't understand that, but now that he is a father he realized that one of his greatest fears is that something horrible would happen to his child. Rabbit Hole is about a family that is dealing with the tragedy of losing their son in an accident. The four year old Danny ran out in the street chasing after his dog and was hit by a car. The first act takes place about 6 months after his death.

The play opens with Danny's mom Becca (Erika Rolfsrud) listening to her younger, wilder sister relay a story about how she punched-out a girl who was yelling at her in a bar. It turns out that Izzy (Joey Parsons) was sleeping with the girls' boyfriend and is now expecting his baby. She was hesitant to tell her sister about the pregnancy because she wasn't sure how Becca would react. Becca tried very hard to be happy for her sister but you could tell that she thought this was another piece of evidence that Izzy was a screw-up. How can she raise a baby when she can't even keep a job at 'Apple bee's'?

Becca's husband is Howie (Dylan Chalfy) who returns from playing handball with his friend and part of a couple that was very close to them before the accident. Debbie was Becca's friend but hadn't called her for months and Becca was not going to call her out of principle. Howie and Becca were both handling the tragedy in different ways. Becca was going crazy with all the memories in the house. Seeing one of Danny's toys or a finger print sent her reeling. She gave the dog to her mother and was starting to clean and sort his clothes to give to Goodwill. She wants to sell the house to try to get away from the sadness. Becca quit going to the support group because she couldn't stand the religious people who said things like, "he is in a better place or God needed another angel", which she found not at all comforting.

Howie on the other hand continued to go to the support group and wanted to keep everything the same in the house and was angry that Becca removed Danny's artwork from the refrigerator. He enjoyed watching the video tape of Danny. Howie accuses Becca of trying to erase Danny from their lives when she accidentally erases the video and in the fact that she wants to sell the house.

Becca's mom, Nat (Jo Twiss) tries to help with varying degrees of success. She understands what it is like to lose a child because her only son also died. Becca resents the comparison because her brother hung himself while strung-out on heroin, while her son was an innocent child.

The only other character in the play is Jason (Alec Silberblatt), the teenage boy that was driving the car that killed Danny. He is also struggling with the death and writes the family a letter and asks if he can dedicate a story he wrote to Danny.

The second act takes place about three months later. The house is up for sale and they have the dog back from Nat who Howie said was making him fat. Izzy is helping Howie with an open house and tells him that no one is going to make an offer when they see Danny's room. They in evidently ask about the child and then are mortified when they hear that he died. "It creeps them out," says Izzy. Izzy also mentions that one of her friends waited on Howie and a woman at a restaurant and that they were holding hands. Howie says that the woman is from the support group and he was just comforting her and emphatically denies that anything else is going on. Becca and her mom return from a shopping trip where Becca had an altercation with a mom who wouldn't buy her son fruit snacks and then ignored him. She ended up slapping the other mom. Nat explained to the other mom why Becca so over reacts. Jason walks in because it is an open house and he wants to talk to them. Howie goes ballistic on him, but he leaves his number in case they want to talk to him later.

Becca decides that she would like to talk to him and arranges it. He explains that he may have been driving a little fast, maybe one or two miles per hour, but he can't be sure because he hadn't checked his speed in their block. He saw the dog and swerved not to hit it and then ended up hitting Danny instead. Becca assures him that they don't blame him, that they know that it was an accident. The title of the play is taken from Jason's story. He writes about rabbit holes that connect our world with alternate worlds. Becca takes some comfort in that maybe there is a world where she was happy and that the tragedy never took place.

In the end Howie agrees that Danny's room should be made into a generic guest bedroom and stops going to the support group. Becca and her mom share a good moment while cleaning out Danny's room. Becca finally calls Debbie, they reconcile and Debbie invites them over for a cookout. Becca admits to Howie that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if they don't sell the house. Even though it isn't clear what will happen to this family in the future it seems that there is hope for them.

I loved this play. Even though it was about a very sad subject there were funny moments as well. I found the play very believable. The acting was great and the actors seemed visibly moved by the standing ovation that they received.

On a side note, there was a lot of eating during the play. They ate creme caramel, birthday cake (Izzy's birthday), zucchini bread, lemon squares and apple tort. I wonder what they do with the leftovers. Maybe the crew gets to eat it. I would volunteer to help them out, everything looked really good. The kitchen in the play was really nice, way better than my kitchen. Mark suggested that we ask the set designer to help us remodel our kitchen. We also noticed that all of the actors except Alec (who is a high school boy from Pittsburgh) have appeared in "Law and Order." I guess with as long as that has been on every actor can get a turn.

The play will be showing until May 18th. So I urge you to go see it. You will not be disappointed.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I always enjoy your "play reports," almost like book reports, except not. Since I never get to go to many of those types of things, it's nice to hear about them anyway.