There’s nothing as devastating to a couple as the loss of a child. The event changes people as they struggle with their grief. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire, now onstage at Stage Door Players, provides a powerful look at the challenges that a couple faces after the loss of their four-year-old son.
A few months after the death of their son, both Becca (Mary Saville) and Howie (Matthew Myers) are handling their grief in different ways, causing tension between the two as they begin to drift apart. Matters become harder to handle in a two-fold punch when Becca’s sister Izzy (Cara Mantella) gets the news that she is pregnant and Jason (Chase Alford), the teenage driver who hit their son, wants to meet with the couple.
Under the noteworthy direction of Dina Shadwell, the cast presents a moving play that is bolstered by the emotionally charged performances each one of the cast members delivers. After assembling a stellar cast for last season’s Miracle on South Division Street, Shadwell has done it again for this production.
One of the most striking and fresh elements of the production is how different the characters are from their counterparts in the critically acclaimed movie starring Nicole Kidman. Both the acting and directorial choices allow the drama to take on a whole different feel.
Saville’s approach to playing Becca makes the character relatable and sympathetic. She delivers a subdued performance, but there’s an underlying intensity that makes her portrayal of grief all the more real. Her approach fits nicely with the subtle emotions of Myers’ Howie, who in his own way makes the character just as relatable.
The strong supporting cast works well with Saville and Myers. Mantella’s lively take on Izzy provides much of the play’s comic relief. In the role of Becca’s mother Nat, Patricia French distinctively offers perspective as she challenges Becca to face her grief. Additionally, Alford brings an earnestness to the character of Jason that causes his interaction with Becca to be heartbreaking.
With Rabbit Hole, a somewhat unsafe choice for the theater, Stage Door Players has staged a must-see production for the fall. An engaging, heart-breaking drama, Rabbit Hole runs through December 7, 2014 at the Dunwoody theater. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is a little over two hours with an intermission.
– A. Wesley