The Victoria Theatre Guild is taking audiences through the intricacies of mourning in its latest offering, Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire.
Directed by Langham veteran Sylvia Rhodes, Rabbit Hole is a heart-wrenching drama about a conventional 30-something couple who lose their four-year-old son, Danny, in a tragic car accident.
Lorene Cammiade is a solid choice as Danny’s mother, Becca. Cammiade portrays a tense and withdrawn Becca who is struggling with the loss of her son eight months after he chased the family dog into the street.
Costume designer Vinnie Chadwick’s choice to put Cammiade in a turtleneck, reinforced with a scarf, really helps convey her uptight personality.
Becca removes Danny’s fingerprints from doorways, his paintings from the refrigerator and even goes as far as wanting to sell the house to remove the constant reminders of her loss. She’s lost friends and is pushing her husband away.
Becca’s husband and Danny’s father, Howie (Eric Holmgren), deals with his grief in a different way, relying on alcohol and support meetings to get through the pain.
Holmgren brings forward anguish and agony while watching a happy home video of his son, crying himself to sleep on the couch. But at times his sobbing seems more blubbering than believable. Even though he struggles at times to maintain a connection to the overwhelming emotions his character is feeling, overall it’s a very good performance in such a dramatic role.
Kate Harter does a great job as Becca’s juvenile sister, Izzy, whose unrefined personality is in complete contrast of her older sister. Izzy is going through her own life change with big news, but the timing of her gain only compounds Becca’s loss, putting a strain on the sisters’ relationship and Izzy’s ability to comfort her grieving sister.
Gloria Snider offers some comedic relief as Izzy and Becca’s mother, Nat, who doesn’t think before she speaks and often comes off as a nonsensical lush. But Snider also offers the concern and comfort that only a mother’s love can bring.
Newcommer Malcolm McLaren brings an unwavering innocence to his role of Jason, the remorseful teenager who hit Danny with his car. Jason’s unexpected intrusion into the home brings about a change in Becca and helps foster some hope in all the hardship.
Toshik Bukowiecki deserves praise for his set design, turning the small stage into a spacious modern family home. The kitchen is fitted with retractable walls that when drawn back reveal Danny’s bedroom, sitting untouched since the accident.
On the surface Rabbit Hole is a heavyhearted and extremely well-written play that looks at the different ways people deal with the grief of losing a loved one, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a cautionary tale; don’t let the grief paralyze you from living a happy life. Because once you’re dead, you don’t get the choice. M
Langham Court Theatre
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