Community Theatre at Woodbury: Not all who fall into the rabbit hole end up in Wonderland like Alice. Becca and Howie in David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole” are trying to climb their way out of a very deep dark place. They are desperately seeking some type of normalcy in their lives. They have lost their 4-year old son to a tragic car accident and coming to terms with this life altering accident is as hard as it is heart-wrenching.
This play is like a nightmare that parents pray never happens to them. It is not right that children should die before their parents. When it happens, life is never the same. Often marriages split and family relationships are tested. What sets this play apart from so many other dramas is that it is not about the ugliness of the accident, but about how a mother and father try to find a safe place within them. They are trying to survive.
When the play opens, the accident has already taken place and the audience observes a couple living a day-to-day existence with anger and sadness always just down the hall and a heartbeat away. Don’t think for a minute that this play is just two hours of grief. There’s plenty of humor, which director Sarah Robards skillfully accents with Becca’s unmarried sister Izzy, who lives on the wild side, and Becca’s mother Nat, who tries to help, but invariable ends up making a mess of things.
When Izzy announces that she is pregnant, everyone waits to see how Becca is going to respond. A birthday gift and a baby shower add a perfect touch of lightheartedness to the Woodbury production.
Robards is a master at keeping the grief from becoming a cry out loud event. Her sensitivity to the topic without being overly sentimental and her ability for understating the obvious indicate a rare insightful talent. In addition to directing this production, she also designed the two-level set. Her original painting also shines in the spotlight.
The cast is a fine ensemble with Michael C. Accuosti delivering a memorable performance as a husband who needs the love and support of his wife. Erika Dorio also delivers a steadfast performance as the maternal woman without a child. Ashley Blackwell comes close to stealing the show with her enthusiastic portrayal of Izzy. She is bursting with life not only as a pregnant character, but as an actress with a natural talent for the stage. Every facial expression and vocal pitch match Izzy’s uninhibited joy as well as Blackwell’s innate effervescence.
Bibiana Andreu couldn’t have been better cast. She too presents a vividly real character as Becca’s mom. Raul Calderon plays the young man who drove the car swerving out of the way from hitting the family dog and inadvertently killed the boy running after his dog. Caleron is a high school student with a future leaning toward theater and completes this cast well.
The first act moves along at a fine pace, but the second act drags a bit. I saw the show’s dress rehearsal, the night before the official opening, and know that this cast is ready for an audience. Bill Geddes’ lighting design works well and spotlights this fine play which runs through March 31. Box office: 203-405-3855.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.