Thanks to Allegany Magazine for the lovely review!
AN ALLEGANY MAGAZINE ONLINE EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: RABBIT HOLE
Cumberland Theatre and Performing Arts Center
By SHANE RIGGS Managing Editor, Allegany Magazine
A "rabbit hole" by popular culture definition is a hole in which one falls – with no known destination. The Internet and social media are prime examples. One logs on to his or her computer and before anyone is aware, two hours have passed and one’s browser history includes brownie recipes, cocktails, and the history of Kennedys who have died in plane crashes.
The term comes from Alice in Wonderland in which Alice falls down the rabbit hole and winds up in a world in which she is not familiar or even remotely adept to handle. Grief is also a rabbit hole. It’s a hole that those who have felt know all too well its depths – and like Alice – many times we are unfamiliar and not even remotely adept to handle what lies ahead. For some, it takes longer to climb out. Each journey is different and each interpretation and each experience is personal, painful, and unique. There is no time limit for how long any of us can spend in mourning.
"You are not in a better place than me," says the character of Becca to Howie. "Just a different place."
Such is the premise of Rabbit Hole, a Pulitzer prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, and the opener for the 2019 season at the Cumberland Theatre and Performing Arts Center.
Set against a contemporary and even sophisticated set, Rabbit Hole’s focus stays sharply on the actors. The stage is minimal but all the elements are there. A clever see through screen serves as both a portrait on the wall and a constant reminder to the audience that this is the story of a once ideal American family. The play has a pace that is at first funny and then very sharp and clever, and then a bit angry and then at once – eerily calm.
There are seven scenes in this play and – not coincidentally – there are seven stages of grief. I would like to think this was done on purpose – with that much thought given to the timing and philosophy behind this story because this story is very thoughtful. Each emotion – each stage of grief is addressed in this lovely bittersweet portrait of a simple family dealing with devastation – but like the stages themselves—they are not presented in order and sometimes overlap – until the final scene when the final stage is felt – like a soft sigh, a whisper, or a wish.
Cumberland Theatre’s Rabbit Hole is carefully directed by Chris McCabe. McCabe – more known for high production “good-feels” musicals – takes a surprising dramatic turn here. And the results of his touches are impressive. The cast is simply sublime. Kimberly Camacho, Kimberli Rowley, Tom Dacey Carr, Nicole Halmos, and Connor McCabe give exemplary powerful performances. For this production, no other actors but this troupe could have presented these characters so deeply and richly. All of them approach their roles with authenticity, care and fearlessness.
Each character has his or her own way of dealing with the tragic events that have fallen upon them. It has been eight months since an episode that literally redefined and tested them all. And each one of them is in a different stage of processing a loss that meant something powerful to them all. They each experienced a tragic event that has redefined who all of them are – as individuals, as relatives, as a support group, as a family and as human beings with complex feelings.
Comparisons to other losses, unsolicited sympathies, the sudden absence of friends, the concept of survivor's guilt, the questions of what memories to keep and which to store, the pressure to heal too quickly from deep wounds, and the heartbreak of what is a new reality are all explored.
This show includes a masterful set design by Rhett Wolford and ambient lighting cues from Braxton Cooper. Jennifer Clark serves as stage manager and costume designer. Lennon Windle is the “Voice of Danny” in what amounts to the story’s heartbeat.
Rabbit Hole is a beautiful, poignant and tender intimate portrait of a moment in time – a moment that is bound to happen in every family – on some level. How each person reacts to this play and the scenes as they unfold may very well determine how each audience member would react or has reacted to these events in real life or real time. The story is very authentic, the emotions from the stage are very impactful. Powerful in its simplicity and profound in presentation, no one who sees this show will walk away untouched.
The Cumberland Theatre and Performing Arts Center presents Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire. Directed by Chris McCabe. Starring Kimberly Camacho, Tom Dacey Carr, Nicole Halmos, Connor McCabe and Kimberli Rowley. Running now through February 17, 2019. For tickets and information, visit www.cumberlandtheatre.com or call 301-759-4990. This play contains mature themes and some adult language.