A kitchen scene from Rabbit Hole.
Editor’s note: Darby writes about the arts in Delaware for deartsinfo.blogspot.com
Anthony Bosco pulled off quite a coup in directing a most difficult play about enormous pain — a couple’s coping and grief after the loss of their four-year-old boy. His direction and instinct in casting resulted in a masterful performance which was gripping from the very first scene.
Kate Brennan’s intense brittleness in playing Becca, the bereaved mother, is made apparent by the carefree, outspoken and uninhibited nature of her sister Izzy (Jessica Rowland-Eppler) and her loving but unbridled mother Nat (Marlene Hummel). The three play off of each other and highlight each other like contrasting colors on canvas. Without Izzie, you wouldn’t see the control freak in Kate, and without Nat, you wouldn’t see the fairly cold nature of her daughters.
The set gave Becca ample room to pace and fuss in the kitchen. The steps, hall and upstairs bedroom allowed the audience to hear comments the characters would not have heard. The props were smoothly brought in and out, but it was strange to have such a clear view of the actors as they came on the stage and froze in place while waiting to start the scene. And the Frank Sinatra music has nothing to do with the play – so don’t rack your brain about that.
Jason Fawcett as Howie is able to combine his character’s own manly self-control in the grief he feels for his son by being kind to all as long as he is allowed to replay his son’s life – literally and figuratively. But when he is confronted with the young man who wants to apologize for causing the death of his son, he loses all control. And Neil Redfield as Jason (still a freshman at UD!) has an amazing ability to portray the endearing yet maddening awkwardness of a kid who is desperate to expiate his crippling guilt.
Despite her iron will and controlling nature, Becca, too, loses it. Somewhere between perfect cakes, perfectly laundered and folded clothes, and a perfectly kept house, she lets her grief out on a stranger – causing even her unrestrained mother to apologize for her behavior.
But in the end, losing it is just what everyone needed and the audience seemed fairly cheerful at the end. Not sure why – it wasn’t a sappy play, but the script, the direction and the cast took the audience so deeply into that family and their grief, that the experience was enigmatically uplifting. And if you really like it, you might want to go see the movie with Nicole Kidman when it hits Delaware.