Like chickens in a barn yard pecking at old and fresh wounds alike, the characters of Rabbit Hole pecked away at each other drawing blood with each attack. Being family, they each knew where the old wounds were and how to inflict the most pain. Mostly this was unintentional, but perhaps unconsciously they were right on target. The pecking was unrelenting. At the intermission, we were asking each other "Where's the humor?"
Part of the play's description reads "Painful, poignant, and often funny . . ." Rabbit Hole is the story of a family badly coping with tragedy. Becca (Alissa Cattabriga) and Howie Corbett (Jed Slaughter) have lost Danny, their five-year old son, in a car accident by a teenage driver. Becca pecks at her younger sister, Izzy (Elena Martinez). Izzy pecks back at Becca and even strangers. Becca and Howie peck at each other. Nat (Dana Galagan), Becca and Izzy's mom, pecks at both of them and the entire Kennedy clan from assasinations to personal piloting.
The play was first produced in 2006. It won a Pulitzer for drama and a Toni for Cynthia Nixon who played the part of Becca. Tyne Daly was nominated for a Toni as the mother. In the 2010 feature film Nicole Kidman plays Becca.
The play was directed by Suzy Willhoft. Devoid of decoration (except for empty picture frames and a window that always showed night) and claustrophobicly small, the set represented the kitchen, the living room and the child's bedroom. Even in these small surroundings the characters usually stood by themselves without physical interaction. Everyone was isolated and dealing with their own pain, perhaps second guessing earlier decisions as they search for meaning. Each scene is filled with space between the characters. A family photo would have revealed inches or feet between each person all perhaps with a forced smile. Depression is lonely. Survival usually depends on others for support.
Howie touches Becca. He wants to comfort her. He has sex in mind, but would probably settle for a good hug. The personal contact is a step in the right direction, but soon the moment passes and the divide widens once more as Becca retreats and leaves the room. Left to himself, Howie searches for solace as he sits on the couch and watches a family video tape. He stares at the TV screen as we hear his son Danny laughing and playing.
Throughout the play either by comment or appearance, Jason (Vinny Peitz), the young driver who killed Danny as he ran into the street after his dog, provides hope. Although he is in pain, too, he is the only one that consistantly smiles.
The characters can't see it, Howie doesn't even want him around, but survival of the family depends upon the faint glimmer of light that Jason provides Becca. Hope illuminates the way out of the darkness and pain. And sometimes it's just hope that lets us move through today and into tomorrow.
From sets and costumes to acting and directing, this production worked well.
It's easy to see why this play won a Pulitzer. It's a presentation that calls for both questions and answers from the viewers. Death and family pain are something we each must face in our own way . . . with a little help from those who love us.
Rabbit Hole runs through November 8th. Visit the TLT website for ticket information.