Mixed Salad Productions has shown exactly why David Lindsay-Abaire’s tenderhearted play Rabbit Hole won a Pulitzer Prize, was performed on Broadway and is now being adapted into a film.
Lindsay-Abaire’s brilliant script tenderly exposes the depths of human grief without, for a moment, becoming mawkish or sentimental, and almost miraculously in the face of tragedy this play is also poignantly funny.
Director Sally Putman has made an inspired choice with this award-winning script, and has maintained just the right balance throughout.
This is a drama that uses silence as well as words to portray the pain expressed by each person whose life has been touched by tragedy. In the wrong hands it could easily have been a maudlin tissue box affair. Putman’s version certainly requires tissue in hand, but it portrays the anguish with truth and tact, a touch of humour, and a lot of love. The timing and acting of the excellent ensemble, under Putman’s deft hand, add to the poignancy and power of this play’s candid portrayal of grief.
Tracey Walker takes the role of Becca, a mother grieving the loss of her child in a freak accident. This is a role that was played by Cynthia Nixon (Miranda in "Sex and the City") on Broadway and is to be played in a big screen version by Nicole Kidman. It is also a role that demands fine distinctions. Walker is brilliant as she portrays a mother brittle and bitter with grief, grappling with overwhelming sorrow. Her sadness is palpable, underlying every expression and action, as she bravely struggles to mourn her loss and maintain some sense of normalcy. Walker portrays this courageous, contained and somewhat controlling Becca in a manner in which encourages empathy.
Dave Simms is equally adept as husband Howie, who turns to others to help him with his grief. Howie’s warmth and humour shine through and provide a wonderful paradox to Becca, depicting the different ways in which people cope with loss.
This tragedy, like many, touches the lives of each member of the family and Julie Quick is delightfully idiosynchratic as the grandmother, as is Anna Thomas as the dizzy Izzy.
Jack Lukac is astounding as the innocent, troubled and tender-hearted Jason.
It would be easy to get the impression that this is a tragic story only for the brave-hearted, but this is not true. Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole is sad, but it is also oddly optimistic, portraying the strength and love that lies within each human being. This unusual drama is also about love and laughter in the face of grief.
This is no rabbit hole down which Alice follows the White Rabbit, this is a “The Matrix” like metaphor which encourages a funny and engaging view of the real world.
Mixed Salad Productions
by David Lindsay-Abaire
Venue: The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, Hindmarsh SA 5007
Dates/Times: 10 - 27 September; Thursdays to Saturdays at 8.00pm | Sunset shows Sun 14, Sun 21 & Wed 24 Sept @ 6.30pm
Tickets: $25 or $18 concession.
Bookings: 0439 533 173, www.mixedsalad.com.au or Venuetix.