“Rabbit Hole” by David Linsday-Abaire won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for drama and is one of the most true-to-life pieces to hit the NW stage this year.
“It’s an excellent play,” director April Hubbard said. “It’s really well-written, but it’s a heartwarming and difficult play both. You have a nice blend of humor and tragedy that is so true to real life.”
“Rabbit Hole” follows the story of a couple, Becca and Howie, several months after their four-year-old son has unexpectedly died. Also tied up in the action are Becca’s mother and sister and the teenager involved in the accident.
“This is a play about family and loss, and how different people grow and grieve in different ways,” costume designer Hana Spangler said. “This play has a lot of grace for its characters. There’s not a right way to handle some situations, but there are better ways. And I think this play shows how we need to acknowledge our differences before we can move on.”
The play features one of the smallest casts a NW main stage show has seen in quite some time. Because of the small cast size, the actors have gotten to invest very deeply in their characters and relationships.
“I’ve never been in a show with as small of a cast as this one is,” said Liz Meier, who plays Becca’s sister Izzy. “I would say in the short time we’ve spent in rehearsal, because there’s so few of us, we’ve gotten pretty close as a cast. And the whole show is based on the fallout of all these different relationships, so that’s been interesting to explore with only four other people.”
Unlike NW’s other productions this season, “Rabbit Hole” is set in a modern, realistic time period. Hubbard believes that both the small, relatable cast and the contemporary setting will help audience members connect to the story on a personal level.
“When we see the characters struggle with everyday situations, and with the monumental issue of death of a loved one, we hear things coming out of their mouths that we have heard people say, have said ourselves, or might be thinking in our head,” Hubbard said. “The whole script rings true.”
In the midst of all the difficult issues “Rabbit Hole” and its characters deal with, the script is also sprinkled liberally with humor.
“There’s a surprising amount of humor, because families are funny,” Hubbard said. “We can imagine our own family members and friends in some of the reactions.”
Meier’s character is a little more “out there” than the other four. Meier described Izzy as “fun, wild and crazy,” with visible character development and a passion for food.
“I’ve never played a character who has to eat on stage as much as this one does,” Meier said. “I have to make sure not to talk with my mouth full.”
This play is shaping up to be an engaging piece of theater that you won’t want to miss.
“It’s just a good, honest story to be telling,” Meier said. “I appreciate that NW is taking the time to present a story that definitely isn’t cliché in the way it’s told.”
“Rabbit Hole” opens next weekend in the Keith Allen Box Theater. Performances are April 22, 23, and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and April 30 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free for students.