Friday, February 23, 2018

Show goes down the rabbit hole

March 7, 2012 by Thom McMahon, contributing writer

The death of a child, the earth-shattering event that the play Rabbit Hole is centered around, is like a deep cut to the soul: it changes everything life could have been and keeps thoughts and dreams tethered underground.

Rabbit Hole was a challenge to create but was worth it (photo provided).

But Sylvia Rhodes, director of Langham Court Theatre’s production of the bittersweet Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is concerned that focusing too much on the play’s heart-wrenching subject matter might make some live theatre patrons pass on some of the best writing of the last decade.

“The play’s about every parent’s nightmare,” says Rhodes, “which sounds like a real downer, but the play never gets morbid; it deals with this tragic situation in a very honest and realistic way, but it deals with it with a lot of humor.”

The play, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and first mounted in 2005, was adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman directed by John Cameron Mitchell last year, but it lost a lot in translation on the silver screen.

“I did go to see the movie, and I was very disappointed because it’s nowhere near as interesting as the play,” says Rhodes. “This play is far better than the movie.”

Rhodes was fortunate enough to see a production of Rabbit Hole four years ago and instantly fell in love with the story. After the show, she liked it so much that she presented it to her production company. Troubles with scheduling have led to delay after delay, but her dream has finally come true this season.

“When we choose a season,” says Rhodes, “we have to choose a balance of comedies, dramas… this, of course, is a sad play, and we don’t want more than one sad play in the season. It’s taken three years to get it on, so I was very happy to be offered the chance of directing it because it is such a splendid play.”

Even with the setbacks, Rhodes is still just as excited and proud to present such a powerful play as when she started working on it so many years ago.

“You’ve got the ups and downs, which is what a well-written play should have. I’ve tried to bring out as much of the humor as possible,” says Rhodes. “It’s been a challenge, for me and for the actors, but it’s been very rewarding.”

Rabbit Hole
Until March 24
Langham Court Theatre, $17

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