Rabbit Hole is Dark, Looking Down, But Look Up to Falcon Theatre‘s Production
Posted On July 7, 2017
Review by Ken Stern of Rabbit Hole: Falcon Theatre
What can be more innocuous than two sisters folding a son’s clean laundry, with one gossiping about her night out at a bar? Everything. And yes, love hurts, and the pain never goes away, which is why the phrase is “insufferable” loss. So it is not a fun night out at Falcon’s Theatre’s production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2007 Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, Rabbit Hole, but there are reasons it won those awards. Steel yourself and attend. The cast and the production team make this show worth your while.
We all live complex lives and that is true for every member of the near ensemble cast. Ted Weil, as Howie offers an outstanding performance as a husband always on the edge, struggling more with his wife’s grief even as he has trouble with his own. It isn’t easy playing reconciling, loving, frustrating, angry, dazed, desolate, and not for a moment at ease, but Weil creates this complex, fragile character. Wife Becca, played by Tara Williams, is the fulcrum the family revolves around, the mother inconsolable and unable to let go of the loss of their four year old, hit by a car while in pursuit of the family dog. Both dashed into the street and he into an oncoming car. Williams’s pain is always present, though she finds more control and late in the play reaches out for reconciliation with the teen age driver.
Sister Izzy, (Katie Groneman) provides another outstanding performance. She is young, energetic, and especially lithe in reaching across a table to wag her finger and wonder about glass houses and throwing stones.
Cathy Roesener, as Nat, Becca’s and Izzy’s mom, and Evan Blanton, as the teenage car driver Jason, round out the cast. These are smaller parts, but not small roles, and Roesener and Blanton offer solid performances. Each carries the burden of being in relationship with death. Blanton’s carries his unease and nervousness into his every scene.
The set is very blue, as is Becca’s bathrobe and some lighting tones (Tracy Schoster and Ted Weil scenic design; they are production producers and responsible for almost all technical features). This is not subtle. Son Danny’s bedroom is at the back of the set, and almost constantly lit. My seatmate, a mother, thought this all appropriate. I do not have children, and am not insensitive. As omnipresent as tragedy is, it is not always visible.
Tension and conflict create opportunities for humor, whether nervous, needling, or profound. Lindsay-Abaire’s script is complex and subtle and humane, portraying all the twists and turns a family suffering the most tragic loss and the resulting grief. The cast brings this story to life on the Falcon stage.
The script is not always subtle, for Izzy is pregnant (new life) and mom Nat holds on to her adult son’s backstory suicide. Children, as Izzy says, are “exactly the kind of thing that gives a person clarity.” As every life can, as all relationships can, if people are present and authentic and care about each other. That is what Lindsay-Abaire wrote and what director Tracy Schoster ably leads the cast through, and what the cast present to us and the production team make happen.
Playing now through April 8th, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM at the Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071; Box Office: 513-479-6783. For more information, go to falcontheater.net.