Wittenberg students nailed the performance of David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole,” allowing audiences to step into the emotional world of Becca and Howie, whose struggle to pick up the pieces after the death of their four-year-old son Danny is all too real.
The New Student Theatre at Springfield Center for the Arts hosted the play three different times over Wittenberg’s Family Weekend, showing off the talent of director Amanda M. Rogus, ’17, and an intimate cast of five.
“Rabbit Hole,” a 2007 Pulitzer Prize recipient for Drama, is a down-to-earth take on a dark situation for two parents. While the plot keeps viewers invested in the grievance of a broken family, humorous lines in the show provide great, laugh-out-loud comic relief.
Becca, played by Kelsie Arlin, ’19, kicks off such laughter in the first scene when she poses the question, “How do you get fired from Applebee’s?” to her wild-child sister Izzy, played by Kimmie Estenson, ‘19. However, Becca plays a small part in the comedic aspect of “Rabbit Hole” compared to her mother Nat, played by Kristen Feigel, ’19, and husband Howie, Brendon Urbanczyk, ’20, who are as hilarious as can be while transparent with their grief.
Howie and Becca’s disagreements on how to cope with their loss seem to be never ending. Their sex life is dwindling away, taking Danny’s paintings off the fridge is nearly a sin and selling the house to get a fresh start is a touchy subject. As a stay-at-home mom, Becca cannot get through a day without the constant reminder of her son’s tragic death – a reminder that she wishes would go away. On the other hand, Howie consoles himself at night with home movies of Danny so that his memory will never be erased.
The audience watches as both Howie and Becca take steps to get back to a somewhat normal life, the most significant step being forgiving to the boy who accidentally struck and killed Danny with his car.
When the young driver Jason, played by Moriah Henderson, ‘20, reaches out to the parents to extend his deepest apologies, Becca finds this to be the best coping mechanism for her, setting her on the path toward acceptance.
Jason and Becca speak of their belief in parallel universes in which there are “tons of you’s and me’s” and a network of holes connecting them.
“So this is just the sad version of us,” Becca said.
The audience could see the weight lifted off of Becca as she gets closure with Jason – a scene that anyone left shaken by a death in the family could appreciate.
Both the humor and authenticity the cast and crew brought to the story made for a play you could never get tired of, and makes it so everyone reflects about the Danny’s in their lives.