Oops.. Another February Show Review

Post February Show Review #2

I just realized that today is the last day of February, and I still owe you one more show review for this month! I bet you all thought that I had forgotten, but nope. I remembered just in time. Phew.

I decided to switch it up and talk about a straight play instead of a musical this time; I am reviewing David Lindsay-Abaire’s play, Rabbit Hole.

The word that I have heard the most often in conjunction with this play is “honest”. It is an honest depiction of a family’s grief after the loss of their four-year-old.

That sounds super depressing, and, well, it is, but the author stresses that his work should never verge into the melodramatic. In the author’s note, he writes:

“It’s a sad play. Don’t make it any sadder than it needs to be. Avoid sentimentality and histrionics at all costs. If you don’t, the play will flatten out and come across as a bad movie-of-the-week…if the stage directions don’t mention tears, please resist adding them.”

There’s also a surprising amount of levity in the show. It has a lot of genuinely funny moments that help the audience bear the heavier themes.

If you have ever experienced grief, this show will speak to you. A New York Times review called it “beautifully observed,” which is what I think people mean when they call it “honest.” It’s not an over-the-top, force-fed-sadness Nicholas Sparks sort of ordeal. It’s just realistic and beautifully put.

I’ll quote my favorite passage for you. Becca (the boy’s mother) asks her own mother (Nat) how she feels now that Nat’s son has been dead for years:

Becca: This feeling. Does it ever go away?

(Beat.)

Nat: No. I don’t think it does. Not for me it hasn’t. And that’s goin’ on eleven years.

(Beat.)

It changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don’t know. The weight of it, I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under. And carry around – like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: “Oh right. That.” Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda…Not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is…

Becca: What.

Nat: Fine…actually.

 

I’m not sure if I’m selling the show very well for you, but trust me: it’s amazing.

Other notable things about Rabbit Hole:

  1. It won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
  2. Cynthia Nixon won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as Becca. The play was also nominated for multiple other Tony awards.
  3. They made a movie adaptation of the play with Nicole Kidman. I didn’t think it was as good as the play, but I still really liked it. Here’s the trailer:
  4. John Gallagher Jr. was in the original cast of this show. You will hear me sing his praises when I eventually review Spring Awakening.