Apple Hill tackles the tragedy of ‘Rabbit Hole’
“Rabbit Hole,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by David Lindsay-Abaire that closes Apple Hill Playhouse’s summer season, requires a delicate balance of seriousness and humor.
Director Kevin Saunders of Hampton says his challenge to achieve that balance involves enacting a moving plot “without overdone or insincere pathos, and letting the humor blend with the characters rather than stand out as jokes interjected for comic relief. It has to be honest and real at all times.”
“Rabbit Hole” deals with members of a family who are working to overcome the loss of their child, who dies after being hit by a car driven by a teenager. Given the intense subject matter, the play touches on a wide range of emotions.
Saunders says a beautifully written script enables the details of the tragedy and its lingering effect on the family “to play out through a series of quiet domestic scenes. We see the day-to-day interaction between people who can no longer speak to each other without the strain of possibly setting off a spark of disagreement or resentment. It is honest, smart and well structured.”
The director says the message of “Rabbit Hole” is not confined to the feelings of despair that one might expect in such a sad situation. Through different perspectives of the characters in the play, theatergoers are exposed to the basic human emotions of longing, hope, love, loss and desperation.
Saunders says it is his hope that audience members are moved by the characters and their situations.
“I want the audience to find a place in their hearts and minds for these people,” he says.
Rachel Downie, an Actors’ Equity member, takes on the role of Becca, the grieving mother and wife of Howie (Mark Cox). She says the fact that she is a mother in real life helps her in her portrayal.
“Becca is so buttoned-up emotionally that I find the struggle not to be as expressive as I would like the true challenge,” she says.
She says she hopes audiences don’t turn away from this show because of the serious subject matter because it is so much more than characters grieving their loss.
Marge Kerr, Apple Hill’s business manager, says the drama is being billed as “containing some adult language and situations.”
“I personally find the dialogue in the play true to life,” she says. “Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire has really caught the humor — believe it or not — and the frustration of people who don’t quite know how to comfort one another.”
Saunders says the strong cast that is dedicated to this project will be an asset to the show’s success. The cast also features Actors’ Equity member Susie McGregor-Laine as Becca’s mother, Katie Kerr as her sister, Izzy, and Stephen Young as Jason, the teen who drove the car that killed Becca’s son.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 2, 7-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $16; dinner theater and group rates available
Where: Apple Hill Playhouse, Manor Road, Delmont
Details: 724-468-5050 or website