Rounds of Applause for RABBIT HOLE at Old Academy Players

by Lisa Panzer
Bryan McVeigh as Howie, Aly Brookland as Izzy, Beverly Redman as Becca (standing), & Dale Mezzacappa as Nat in Old Academy Players' sensitive production of RABBIT HOLE.

Bryan McVeigh as Howie, Aly Brookland as Izzy, Beverly Redman as Becca (standing), & Dale Mezzacappa as Nat in Old Academy Players’ sensitive production of RABBIT HOLE.

Opening night for RABBIT HOLE, by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Christopher
Wunder, met with abundant applause after each scene and a proper ovation with many on
their feet in appreciation during last bows. There was laughter and eyes pooled with
sadness as the audience witnessed onstage the Corbett family step through live
mines of anguish and grief over the unimaginable loss several months earlier of a four
year old son, nephew and grandson, the still raw pain threatening to unravel the family.

Yes, there are actually some laugh moments included, as the author has made this family
believable, beginning with the sensitively acted expository scene featuring Becca Corbett
(Beverly Redman), the boy’s mother, folding little clothing in the company of her blithe
sister Izzy (Aly Brookland), and the tiptoe tension is in the air between the two when Izzy
breaks it with a lively story about her punching some woman at a bar. As Becca, in
horror, questions and lectures her, Izzy eventually lets out a bombshell made of irony.
Feelings, perceptions and issues are further explored as the sisters, and later others,
hash things out in this illuminatingly sensitive and well performed production.

The cast makes excellent use of silence and body language and detailed expressions when
producing tension and awkwardness which was made palpable. Every character is
honest, beautifully developed; both touching, and touchable. Beverly Redman does a
glorious job of portraying a mother trying to cope with a grief which is like an open wound,
irritated by the slightest friction, real or imagined, who cannot be consoled by religion,
support groups or memories, but must continue to find and function in her new role. Ryan
Reed gives an energetic edge to Jason, the high school student involved in her son
Danny’s (given voice by Aiden McVeigh) fatal accident. Bryan McVeigh, playing Becca’s
husband Howie, deftly grows his character so that changes are perceptable by degrees
by the end of the play and Aly Brookland is awesome and highly entertaining as Izzy the
wild child sister who is witty and so much wiser and stronger inside than she at first
appears. She seems to take after her mother, Nat. Dale Mezzacappa brings a touch
comedy and plain old comfort in her delivery as Nat, Izzy and Becca’s mother, whose
sometimes zany musings and antics elicit laughter, and whose patience and love
ultimately help Becca find her way through the warren of her grief with the key line about
the weight of it being “…what you’ve got instead of your son. So, you carry it around.
And it doesn’t go away. Which is…fine, actually.”

The show was well paced and theater space was maximized by utilization of the small
spaces to the left and right of the stage apron, as in Jason’s reciting the story he
dedicated to Danny “The Rabbit Hole” off stage left as Becca, offstage right appears to be
reading it. The set (Sarah Swearer, Christopher Wunder, Carla Childs) suited the stage,
was tastefully decorated, and the use of wainscoting and color to differentiate living
spaces cleverly conceived. Blocking and movement were clean and concise.

Kudos to all involved whose efforts made this production, centered on a delicate and difficult topic,
elucidating and outstanding.

By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Christopher Wunder
January 11 – January 27
Old Academy Players
3540-3544 Indian Queen Lane
Philadelphia PA 19129

You may also like

Leave a Reply