Review: Rabbit Hole (Scarborough Players)

Poster image from Rabbit Hole - hold in the grown surrounded by green grass with a pair of discarded pink running shoesThe Rabbit Hole, a Pulitzer-prize winning story by David Lindsay-Abaire, is playing at the Scarborough Village Theatre. It’s a touching family drama that’s tightly directed by Maureen Lukie, and it won’t leave anyone indifferent.

A little boy has been accidentally killed. The tragic loss still permeates every word and gesture of his family members eight months after the fact.

Grieving mom Becca (Alex Saul) dismisses efforts to console her. The boy’s dad Howie (Holm Bradwell) finds solace in watching old family movies. Becca’s sister Izzy (Kerrie Lamb) feels guilty about being pregnant, Becca’s mom Nat (Mickey Brown) is still going through her loss, and teenage driver Jason (Davis Okey) looks for peace.

Arash Eshghpour has designed a set that works well with no scene changes and three distinct zones: kitchen, living room and child’s bedroom. The colourless, stark living room contrasts with the child’s bedroom, which has remnants of former joy. The bedroom – raised and in the left corner – looms over the rest of the home, just as the boy’s loss does over the family. I liked that there were no set changes; it would have been disruptive to the grave tone of the play if people were moving furniture between scenes.

The acting is solid and authentic by all performers. Saul brings Becca’s despair through with closed body language and a lack of patience for words like “God needed another angel.” Okey surfaces Jason’s guilt and earnestness with his awkward, hesitant lines, defeated posture, and eyes full of pleading.

Interestingly, Becca displays tenderness towards Jason, the driver who killed her son, during his visit. She seems maternal towards him, as they talk of potentially happier versions of themselves in a parallel universe – down the “rabbit hole.” It’s a particularly poignant moment that reminds us of different ways of wading through grief.

Dan Schaumann has developed a strong sound design for Rabbit Hole which is well executed by Angel Marius. The ever-present boy is heard through a VHS tape, and barking is heard from the dog Taz. Even though he’s absent from the stage, the dog is an important character, being a recipient of resentment for his role in the boy’s death. The sound of his barking triggers many revealing remarks about the family dynamic.

In terms of venue, every seat is a good one. The audience sits on three sides, never far from the actors. And thanks to a recently installed hearing loop system, audience members who need hearing assistance can adjust their hearing aids or cochlear devices to understand the dialogue better. People can also borrow devices from the theatre.

All in all, Scarborough Players gives us a stirring and memorable performance of Rabbit Hole. Bring tissues.

Details

    • Rabbit Hole is playing until September 21, 2019 at Scarborough Village Theatre (3600 Kingston Rd)
    • Remaining regular showtimes: September 12, 13, 14, 19 and 20 at 8 PM
    • Matinees: September 8, 15 and 21 at 2 PM
    • Ticket prices range from $19 – $24
    • Tickets are available online or in person at the box office
    • Recommended for age 12 and up
    • Some strong language and mature content

Production poster provided by the company