FINALLY watched Rabbit Hole, a production of Red Turnip Theater.
In my ignorance, my impression was that it would be a light play because for some reason the first thing I associated "rabbit hole" was Alice in Wonderland (and then other holes that are too green to mention). Turns out it is a heavy, angst-laden play that explores the emotional process that parents go through upon the death of a child.
It starts out witty, as Izzy, a former Applebee's waitress (cracked up when main character Becca said 'how is anyone fired from Applebee's?' as I have friends who actually worked there as servers!), breaks the news to her sister Becca that she is pregnant. But the pain of having lost a child in an accident is soon established.
The play was brilliantly written by David Lindsay-Abaire, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and librettist. It very carefully and movingly explores such range of emotions as envy (of a pregnant sister or other mothers), despair, weariness (a deceased libido), frustration, and then hope.
Now reading up on the play, I have just found out that the role of Becca was played onstage by no less than Cynthia Nixon and a movie of Rabbit Hole starred Nicole Kidman! It is an ideal role for any competitive actress and Agot Isidro, in Red Turnip's version, lived up to the demands of Becca's conflicted character.
The coping mechanism of each character is also presented clearly. First, the brilliant contrast between husband and wife: Howie (played by the always excellent Michael Williams) tries so hard to keep the memory of Danny (the child they lost) alive as Becca tries so hard to forget. Then the comparison between two mothers who had lost their sons - Becca also lost a sibling to drugs: the younger mother Becca still weeping and warped in frustration while Becca's mom had achieved forgiveness and rekindled her sense of humor. And finally, the irony that Izzy, the youngest of them all, the knocked up waitress, had become the calming voice that knocked sense.
There is a highfalutin explanation of the rabbit hole that mentions Orpheus and his attempt to rescue Eurydice from the dead. Pay attention here. For here lies the turning point where, as Becca breaks down while trying to accept the kid who killed her son, she finds hope in the possibility of another rabbit hole without grief.
I found out that this scene is played out differently in the movie but Becca's emotional breakdown is the same. I can still see Agot Isidro weeping :'(
My favorite scene though is when the mom passes on her wisdom to Becca. Becca asks, "Does it ever go away?" And her mom says - in other words - that sometimes you try to forget but then after you do you dig for those memories again, maybe even the grief, because it's all you have ... and that's ok.
I found a clip of this exact scene from the movie too:
It's a painful play. And because the actors have done such a great job you leave feeling really affected. (At least I was.) If you can, try to catch the evening show instead of a matinee - then you can go get a much needed drink after. It's a little heavy for a Sunday afternoon. But if you have to catch a matinee, don't worry, Red Turnip's got you covered - there's a bar in the reception hall that has scotch, vodka and wine!
Play runs until August 31. Fridays at 9pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, Sundays at 4pm with an extra closing show on the 31st at 8pm . Don't miss it!
Congratulations to the cast and crew!