Ryan Findley

Rabbit Hole

By - Oct 22nd, 2008 02:52 pm


The Milwaukee Chamber Theater has made a commitment to producing a Pulitzer-prize winning play every season for the next five years. Rabbit Hole, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for Drama and is the second production in this endeavor. It is the achingly sweet, heart-rendingly bitter story of a family, the Corbetts, dealing with the loss of a child, and the ways in which they come together and pull apart as they grieve and begin to heal.

Rabbit Hole is an intimate production: the entire play takes place in the Corbett house, and there are only five characters in the cast. Howie and Becca Corbett (played by Steven Koehler and Jacque Troy) are dealing with the death of their four-year-old son, Danny. Becca’s sister Izzy (Katheryn Bilbo) and mother Nat (Jan Rogge) offer a head-on approach to dealing with Becca’s loss. The cast is rounded out by David Bohn in the role of Jason, the teenage driver responsible for Danny’s death.

Becca is the star of the show. Troy brings a completely believable level of restrained neurosis to the role as she navigates her younger sister’s pregnancy, her mother’s clumsy attempts to provide comfort and a house full of memories. Howie finds solace in a support group of other parents that have lost children and absents himself from the house for long periods. He cannot understand why Becca isn’t as comforted by the group as he is, and their different grieving processes create rising tension between them. Koehler is perfect as the frustrated Howie, trying to be supportive to a wife in a very different emotional space than he, but becoming increasingly frustrated by their growing distance.

Bohn is note-perfect as the self-centered but emotionally connected teenager responsible for Danny’s death. His attempts to set things right with the Corbetts is a study in doing the right thing for the right reasons and still managing not to do it all correctly. Bilbo and Rogge are welcome relief from the seriousness of Howie and Becca’s relationship, giving the whole play a lighter touch than most dealing with death.

Since the entire production takes place in one space, the stage at the Cabot Theater is divided into distinct areas, accomplished quite well by using a bent backdrop and multiple levels of action. The entire production has an intimate feel despite the grandiose surroundings.

Rabbit Hole will make you laugh and cry. It is a touching story that is performed and delivered with remarkable sensitivity and realism. We should all hope that we could deal with a tragedy as well as Lindsay-Abaire portrays, despite the dark times that Becca and Howie go through. VS

The production runs through November 2 at the Cabot Theater. 414-291-7800 or milwaukeechambertheatre.com.

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