The third show of Attleboro Community Theatre's 53rd season is the Massachusetts area premiere of "Rabbit Hole", a play by David Lindsay-Abaire which won him the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for drama in 2007. Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want until a shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves them drifting perilously apart.The show is a comic drama that focuses on a couple trying to cope with the death of their only child, a four year old, in an auto accident, while Becca's well meaning mother and off kilter sister attempt to lift their spirits and deal with their own problems, each in her own inimitable way. The couple's lives are further complicated when Jason, the young driver who killed their son contacts them seeking closure, too. A conversation between Becca and Jason includes a brief discussion of the theory of quantum immortality as described in a story he has written about a place where "rabbit holes" lead to parallel universes. However, the theme of the play is the way people handle grief, the death of the child, the suicide of a family member and not the theory or search for quantum immortality. Director Beverly Darling casts the best five people for these roles. The internal despair of each character is always visible to the audience but Beverly brings the pathos and humor out in each gut wrenching scene of this electrifying show.
Beverly brings out the deep seated emotions from her talented cast. It shows how to find hope even in the darkest moments and to find the path to the light of day again. There is a lot of truth, accuracy and humor in the details of this story. She is aided in her task by hard working stage manager, Barbara McCarthy who keeps things moving beautifully. The fantastic set is by Douglas Green and Greg Barbon and the furniture was lent to ACT from Cardi's Furniture Store. It is a unit set with a living room downstage, kitchen up center with a stairway and upstairs child's bedroom with a toy box on stage right. Kim Alessandro is a powerhouse in this show. She plays Becca who tries to stay busy to keep her mind off the family tragedy. The show opens with her folding the clothes of her four year old son, Danny. and you gradually learn what has happened during her conversation with her younger sister, Izzy. Kim shows Becca's controlled anger and grief which simmer beneath the surface at times. Becca explodes at a mother in the supermarket who ignores her 5 year old because the child wants a fruit roll up and Becca slaps her face. In one of the poignant moments in the show, she finally breaks down crying in a scene with Jason when they are discussing his prom and she finally finds closure. Kim can also handle comic roles, having reviewed her as the charwomen in "Christmas Carol" for ACT in 2008 and having directed her in "The Case of the Double Crossing Crook" for Whodunnit in 2002. Greg Barbon plays her husband, Howie wonderfully. He tries to get Becca to come around by rekindling their physical relationship and when she doesn't want to, he deals with his grief by watching a videotape of Danny. Howie becomes outraged at one of Becca's actions when she accidentally erases the videotape with footage of a tornado from the weather channel. Greg's best moment comes when he breaks down in tears during their argument scene near the end of Act 1 when Howie feels Becca is trying to erase the memory of Danny from their lives. Greg is also at home doing comedy having reviewed him as Christopher Wren in "The Mousetrap" for MMAS and having first seen him as the delivery man in 1989 in "No Sex Please We're British" at the Newport Playhouse.
Amy Silva is very funny as Izzy who constantly eats throughout the show. Izzy always wants to be the center of attention and she tries to cheer Becca up by telling her about how she punched a fat woman in the mouth and that Izzy is moving in with her boyfriend, Augie. These stories fail to cheer Becca up. Izzy is puzzled at the bathroom set Howie and Becca bought her for her birthday. Amy also has some dramatic moments in the show with the best one being the argument scene between Greg and her when she accuses him of seeing another woman, having learned it from her waitress friend. Judy Lea Eustace has a gem of a role as Nat, the mother. Nat and Izzy are a lot alike with liking to drink and saying inappropriate things. Judy has a comic highlight about the story about the "Kennedy Curse" about rich people acting stupid and how people want things to make sense. This scene explodes into a dramatic one when Nat shares her past grief with them. She explains to Becca its key symptom is an overwhelming, isolating, heavy feeling that never really goes away and is like a brick. Judy has a funny moment about Danny eating chocolate covered espresso beans one time and running all over the place in Act 2. Amy and Judy handle the moments of levity needed to balance the heavy moments along the way. I last reviewed Amy in "Never Get Smart with an Angel" for Theatre Works in 2008 and Judy in "Chapter Two" for ACT this past April. Brian Balduzzi plays Jason, the teenaged driver of the car. He shows his remorse by writing a letter to Becca and later speaking to her about writing a story about how the little boy will live on in a parallel universe in his science fiction story. Jason explains how he didn't see the boy when the dog darted out in front of his car. Brian handles Jason's awkwardness at facing them wonderfully. So for a terrific look at a contemporary play that audiences can readily relate to, be sure to catch this gut wrenching play at ACT before it is too late.