Playhouse, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

06/11/2012 - 10/11/2012

Production Details

Rabbit Hole is a vivid, hopeful, honest and unexpectedly witty portrait of a family searching for what remains possible in the most impossible of all situations.

Becca and Howie exist in the wake of a shocking, sudden loss. Becca finds pain in the familiar while Howie finds comfort. The shifts come in abrupt, unforeseen moments. As off track as they are, they find their way to a life that still holds the potential for beauty, laughter and happiness.  

An intimate glimpse into two people learning to re-engage with each other and a world that has been tilted off its axis.

Rabbit Hole is as poignant as a love letter.

“GRADE: A!  A transcendent and deeply affecting new play, which shifts perfectly from hilarity to grief.”  – Entertainment Weekly

“You feel vaguely guilty for laughing, even as your laughter relieves you…This is one smart play.” – Philadelphia Inquirer

Playhouse, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton
November 6th – 10th, 7.30pm

For more info, please visit: www.carvinginice.co.nz  

Rabbit Hole features:
Viv Aitken, Nick Clothier, Stephanie Christian, Fiona Sneyd, Philip Garrity, Conor Maxwell

Touching and uplifting

Review by Gail Pittaway 08th Nov 2012

David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize winning play brilliantly depicts a family group still in a state of crisis well after the traumatic events of the loss of a loved one.

A married couple, Howie and Becca, have grieved in such different ways over the accidental death of their very young son that they have become estranged from each other. Becca’s grief imprisons her in ways that even her mother and sister consider odd; she does not weep but goes through motions in a meaningless orbit of chores and cannot break through the drone-like horror of her sadness.

This is not an easy play to watch and an even more difficult one to stage, yet the movement through the labyrinth of loss is ultimately inspiring.

Viv Aitken gives a tense, serious reading to this part, with convincing effect. Her emotional containment is palpable and the impact on those around her unavoidable.

Nick Clothier’s Howie is warm, sincere, puzzled. Both have moments of emotional eruption they manage superbly. It’s a dignified and focused piece of collaboration.

Despite the subject matter, however, there are unexpectedly funny moments between these two when flashes of their wit and intimacy flare up, or from their encounters with the two other important characters, sister Izzy and mother, Nat. 

Fiona Sneyd is charmingly whimsical as Nat; illogical, given to random pronouncements and utterings on irrelevant subjects such as Kennedy family secrets, food and manners, reminding us that the play’s original setting is in the USA. She too has lost a son, Arthur, although he was 30 and died of a drug overdose, unlike her grandson.  Her insistence on having her own grief acknowledged is one of the recurring motifs of the dialogue: Becca wants to be the only person who has lost a loved one; the fact is, she is not.  

One of the finest scenes in a production full of great moments, is when Becca and Nat tidy away the toys from Daniel’s room. Whilst they are musing upon his children’s books and some of the mad toys that will go into storage or to other homes, Nat explains how, even though the stone in the pocket that is grief doesn’t go away and you always carry it, it becomes fine, okay.

The character on whom the plot turns is that of Becca’s sister Izzy: bohemian, irreverent and messy but very much engaged with the world. She has formed a new relationship with an offstage character, Auggie, who sounds even more chaotic than she and the play opens with her gradually unfolding the tale of a violent encounter with Auggie’s ex girlfriend just before revealing that she is now pregnant.  Unafraid of confrontation, clearly, as she was dishing the violence in the earlier story, she challenges both Becca and Howie over their lifestyle, their conflicts and unresolved tensions.

Stephanie Christian’s Izzy is so unrestrained that she is a great foil for Becca’ tension and Howie’s frustration. Christian, however, resists the temptation to make her ditzy and this performance, while achingly funny, is also nuanced with the sadness of Izzy’s sense of inadequacy.

The character with whom the title and theme are revealed is the college student, Jason, whose driving had killed Danny. He tries to meet with Becca and Howie to apologise and talk about the tragedy and finally sends them a story he’s written for school, about a boy who goes in search of his father who has died, through parallel universes, like rabbit holes, of which our own world is but one of many.

Philip Garrity is suitably awkward and gauche in this part and the scene when Becca finally arranges to meet him in secret is another stunning moment, with the image of hope in parallel worlds delivered by a boy who has ended hope in this one. Conor Maxwell is also sharing this role on several nights of the run.

Poole’s set design exhibits her usual high standards with an open home displayed; a lounge, with working video recorder that Howie plays in secret to watch a gorgeous home movie of his young boy; the son’s room complete with fancy lamp books and robot bedspread; and, most impressively, a proper kitchen bench and fridge (with delicious looking sweet treats such as crème caramel and lemon squares). The use of a standard lamp in the lounge lighting, too, is austere, aloof and stark. There is no elephant in this room, just a small green dinosaur tucked into the video cabinet.

With fine sensitive snatches of music, and moments in darkness at the end of each act, for the wiping away of tears, this is a touching and uplifting production, which I hope many will have to courage to get along to see.


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Engaging exploration of humanity

Review by Ross MacLeod 08th Nov 2012

There’s an old apocryphal tale that earnest Hemmingway was once challenged to write a short story in six words, a challenge to which he rose to great effect. I was reminded of this story for several reasons when thinking about Rabbit Hole. The sharply crafted script loads its characters with intent and emotion; truths hinted at and words unsaid resonating every bit as strongly as those that do.

As the title suggests, there’s a lot going on under the surface in Rabbit Hole, but in an emotional, not a metaphorical sense.

The premise of the show is on the surface simple and raw, a family dealing with the accidental death of their four year old son. But it is the layers of characters that play out in the story that give the show its strength. The script is naturalistic and genuine, heightened by the strong performances of the cast, such that you buy every word they are saying as something real and honest. [More


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