RABBIT HOLE presented by Falcon Theatre through April 8. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Thursday preview performance.
The impact of a devastating loss drives the story in Falcon’s penultimate production of the season. Director Tracy Schoster deftly leads the five-person ensemble through the emotional minefield of grief, guilt and “what ifs”.
Tara Williams is strong in her portrayal of Becca, the mother who has lost her young son. Williams uses Becca’s grief as a barrier between her and the outside world as she struggles to come to terms with her new status quo. Her isolation has her family walking on egg shells and her husband emotionally adrift.
As Becca’s sister Izzy, Katie Groneman finds a good balance as the maturing “wild child” of the family. Her energy was a great balance to the heaviness of the subject matter. In fact, I wouldn’t have minded her taking the character up one more notch performance-wise.
Ted J. Weil does well playing Howie, Becca’s husband who is searching for an emotional connection to process his grief — a connection he can’t make with his wife. Howie comes off as strongly grounded, but I would have liked a bit more vocal variety in the performance to give us more insight into the character.
Cathy Roesener is strong as Nat, Becca and Izzy’s mother, who has the tendency to speak before she thinks. The scene between Becca and Nat in the child’s bedroom was spot on and really allowed the characters to reconnect. Unfortunately, the small performance area made the scene visually static.
Evan Blanton does well as Jason, the young man who plays a role in the tragedy. I would have liked to have seen Jason’s youthful enthusiasm and awkwardness carry him away a bit further, which would help make his more somber moments stand out more.
I think the family dynamic and the relationships between the characters worked really well. It was honest, believable, and emotionally rooted. During some of the confrontation scenes, I wasn’t hearing the grief in the actors’ voices that was fueling the anger. Without that, the scenes lost a bit of their depth.
The pacing was strong, but there were several times where the scene could have used one or two beats to give some of the lines a bit of weight, allowing the words to hit and do damage. The incident with the videotape as well as Becca’s harshness in her scene with Nat were two moments that could have benefited by not being so rushed. The same is true for the “apology” between Becca and Nat later in the show; had they just let it be a moment, the audience could have see and appreciated it.
I’m not sure how it is written in the script, but I think Jason’s entrance may have had more of an impact if the audience didn’t see him prior to his first interaction with the cast. Regardless, during the reading of the letter, my complete focus was on Becca. With the dim lighting directly above the actress, it was difficult to see her face. More body movement from Williams would help the audience understand the impact the letter had on her.
When Becca does finally reach out to Howie, his lack of reciprocation left me with the impression that there were still problems ahead for the couple. A more positive response would have made me feel more hopeful for the pair.
Overall, the production was emotionally strong and true, especially for anyone who has suffered through a loved one’s sudden and unexpected passing. Tissues recommended.
“At some point, it becomes bearable.” -Nat
My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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