A beautiful set, well-designed in form, content, structure and color, greets your senses as you enter the barn at Playcrafters of Skippack for their production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s RABBIT HOLE. It is the home of Becca and Howie Corbett of Larchmont, NY in modern day. The story is one which rips at your heart, weighs heavy on your soul and forces you to think, “What if this happened to me, how would I handle it?”
“It” is the tragic loss of their son, a young toddler, who, in his eagerness to run after the family pet dog into the street, is killed by a motorist, who also is a child of sorts, a young high school student. It is pure dumb bad luck, not a deliberate act of violence; an accident. How the family and the young high schooler deal with this accident is the storyline and it takes many directions. Becca (Christine Martuscello) and Howie (Jeff Wu) deal in opposite emotions. Becca tries to wipe away some of the lingering memories of her little boy by packing up his clothes and toys to Goodwill, while Howie, anguishes over the mistaken erasure of the last video of his son. Becca’s sister, Izzy, (Elizabeth Hennessey), learns of her unexpected and out-of-wedlock pregnancy and thus has to deal with the “timing” of her nephew’s death and the reality of having to grow up from being a bit of a flake to a responsible adult. The sisters’ mother, Nat, (Lauren Rozensky Flanagan) tries to be a supportive mom. She, too, has lost her grandson, but it brings back memories of losing her own son six years earlier to a drug overdose. And finally, Jason, (Brent Anders), the high school senior who struck and killed the little boy with his car, looks for something in the way of forgiveness or at least, an understanding, as to the “why” of it all. This is not a play to be “enjoyed”, it is to be “experienced” and I believe Playcrafters’ team did a fine job of presenting this drama. A progressive board of directors permitted the show, which contains “rough at times language”, to proceed as written, allowing Lindsay-Abaire’s hard hitting, emotion-filled dialogue to create its desired impact.
Lori Maxwell, the show’s director, wanted to create a conversation with the audience, to discuss the “what if’s” of this drama after you leave the theatre. I believe she accomplished her goal. Although at times, some of the actors overplayed scenes where they could have used the philosophy “less is more”, especially in such an intimate theatre, Maxwell had her actors in the correct frame of mind to produce the masterful work. Maxwell was assisted by Marie Bishop as Stage Manager, whose hands were full with many edible props – a logistical nightmare in its own right, but giving the show realism. Nothing fake here. John Stangl, Lights and Sound, did a fine job of creating proper mood with all his effects.
The individual actors of this show all had their moments on stage. Opening night jitters were a little apparent, but that was fine with me – we have all been there. I think it is important that each actor grows into their respective roles as the run continues and I know that if you see the closing night of the show as compared to Thursday’s opening, you will see a difference. That is the challenge for this cast. That is what great dramas force you to do. A couple of notes to add to ensure that you, the reader, come away with a positive view of this production; Lauren Rozensky Flanagan deserves credit for her “show must go on” attitude. During the show’s intermission, Lauren found out about a real life, personal, tragic loss of someone very close to her. Without missing a beat, Lauren bravely portrayed Nat with a heavy personal heart that must have been hurting. I found out about her loss only after the show. In addition, please permit me to give accolades to Martuscello and Anders for their scene when they meet for milk and cookies to discuss the death of Becca’s son. These were the best moments of the evening, with Martuscello showing a range of emotion from stoicism to utter breakdown, while Anders, in the best performance of the evening, displaying a quality of professionalism that would have rivaled the Broadway production, (and I saw the Broadway production…)
Continued good success to this theatre and their production of RABBIT HOLE, which runs until August 27th. You will experience a heartfelt show and be glad you experienced it with others.
by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Lori Maxwell
August 11-27, 2011
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road
Something I learned at Illinois State U. during my years there. We had an amazing venue called “Process Theater” – the philosophy: “a production is liquid & always changing”. Since opening night, we have moved in other directions & still maintained the consistency of the director’s vision & integrity of the characters. Very difficult opening night for me, but sweet my loss also gave a gift. I am honored to be working with this cast, crew and family.
I am planning to see this show next weekend, hopefully. I wasn’t that familiar with the story and this really helps. (Looks like I’ll be bringing tissues.) I was particularly touched by the comment about one of the performers facing a personal loss during intermission of opening night. While reviewers are often not privy to these types of real-life connections to shows, it is great to see that there is a deeper understanding of the mixed bag of emotions that is Community Theatre. Bravo! to STAGE and Kevin Korowicki for this humanistic review. Thanks.