Sunday matinees are starting to become one of my favorite times to see shows. Typically I go to church in the morning, pack a lunch and eat it at a fun spot in the Twin Cities (the sculpture garden, the amber box at the Guthrie, etc.) and then head to a performance. This weekend I chose to eat at Open Book and headed to Theatre in the Round on the West bank to see “Rabbit Hole”.
Theatre in the Round is just as it says, a full circle theater. Audience members get a complete view of the characters actions from every angle. My theater blogger friend, Jill aka Cherry and Spoon told me of the concept “back-ting”. This is where actors have to act with their backs to convey expression. It is truly an art and in order to perform at this particular theater, it is a must.
“Rabbit Hole” is the story of a family coping with the sudden death of their four-year-old son, Danny. It is a beautifully crafted dramatic piece. Director David Coral said “Life comes at us point-blank, and from time to time we all find ourselves ‘down the rabbit hole’ — suddenly in a place where the world no longer looks familiar — and we are forced to navigate uncharted territory. During these times we re-examine who we are, who others are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there.”
The show was comprised of five actors. Becca was the mother Danny, the boy who was killed. The only reference we see to Danny is a home video that his father, Howie, watches. Becca’s mother, Nat and sister, Izzy are primary characters as well. Finally, we meet Jason who we come to learn was the teenage boy who accidentily killed Danny. Danny was chasing after his dog and ran into the street. He was struck by Jason’s car and life for this family would never be the same. As you can imagine, the story is deep and very intense.
Izzy played by Rachel Finch was my favorite. Her wonderful acting ability gave off a sincerity that made it feel as if I were talking to a friend and not just watching an actress deliver lines. Believability is vital, especially in dramatic pieces. She did a wonderful job of that. The husband and wife couple, Becca and Howie embodied their roles. To me, Becca (Elena Giannetti) is point on, stubborn, and always needs to be in control. Her husband (Ron Ravensborg) attempts to get back to “normal life” but it is hard. I can only imagine how taxing it would be to attempt to go on with life after the sudden loss of a child. Linda Sue Anderson played Nat who was the mother of Izzy and Becca. She was the comic relief of the play and was silly and fun. I enjoyed her quirky part a lot. The young high school boy, Jason, was played by a local senior in high school, Kenny Martin II. He was cast very well. He had the air of a teenager who is searching for meaning in life which is exactly what the part called for.
Set designer, Peter W. Mitchell did a marvelous job. I felt as if I were peering into a family’s home. Everything felt real. The kitchen had a working sink, dishwasher and refrigerator. There was a living room with a couch and television that flowed into a dining room with a large table. Finally, there was a boy’s room with a small bed with toys. The floors were wooden and patrons walked across the “home” in order to get to their seats. The costume designer, Lisa Conley, did a good job providing practical outfits and everyday clothing.
One of my favorite parts of the show was the transition time. In between each scene, it seemed as if the actors were tidying up the house or moving from one room to another. The lights would dim and music would play. Inna Skogerboe who was the sound designer/composer, did a clever job with it.
The individual scenes flowed well together. The directing was good, the actors all pulled their weight and balanced each other out. The costumes were period friendly and the storyline was relatable to all who have ever felt hurt, frustrated, or confused with life (that should be all of us). “Rabbit Hole” will not leave you with a big smile and jolly feeling at the end. However, it will stir up thoughts in your mind and cause you to think and question. If you are looking for a good dramatic work of art, look no further!
Theatre in the Round
* A word of warning (which is also noted in the Playbill): audience members may find some language offensive.