Exploring the delicate topic of unfathomable grief, five talented UEA actors give earnest and heart-wrenching performances in Rabbit Hole. With a Pulitzer Prize-winning script by David Lindsay-Abaire, Minotaur Theatre Company thoughtfully expresses the fragility of the human condition and the trauma that occurs in the wake of a child’s death. Becca and Howie lose their four-year-old son, Danny, as he fatally follows his dog out into the road, and the audience, much like the characters, battle the temptation to cast blame.
The futility of this search is noted by Nat, the tactless but loveable family member we all have or secretly want, when – amidst seemingly meaningless waffle – she suggests it is easier if there is an obvious guilty party. Yet how can we blame Becca for not paying attention when we have witnessed her folding her son’s clothes for the last time, and we have watched her skirt around the physical reminders of him everywhere she steps? How can we blame Howie for forgetting to latch the gate when we are gifted deeply intimate moments with him as he watches the last tape of his son repeatedly as Danny’s laughter haunts the agonisingly lifeless living room?
How can we blame Jason, the awkward and fragile seventeen-year-old driver, whose young life is now eternally tainted with the guilt of this accident? All of this sits alongside the emotional complexity of Izzy, Becca’s sister, getting pregnant just months after her nephew’s death, and the lingering ache of their brother’s suicide. Rabbit Hole offers science rather than religion as a way to cope with grief, harrowingly proposed through Jason’s Science-Fiction story in his student magazine, where infinite space means infinite possibilities- thus, infinite ways their lives may be different in parallel universes. Perhaps most importantly, this performance sensitively illustrates the tremendous pain of losing a child and the multitude of ways one can mourn.
Despite the astounding script, with a conventional living room as the primary setting, and a subject matter as upsetting as this, it would not be difficult for an audience to disengage. However, the reality of this life-altering loss is constantly reiterated through the thoughtfully-composed set-changes, as well as the sound and lighting intermissions that serve as allusions to videos or memories of Danny. The exceptional talent of this cast and crew, under the direction of Freya Bennett and Elle Jenkins, stand as testament to the way that student theatre offers catharsis and a platform to discuss and reflect in circumstances where overwhelming pain feels like the only foreseeable future. Rabbit Hole offers hope amidst darkness.
Rabbit Hole is running 24th – 26th January at 7.30pm at the UEA Drama Studios Rehearsal Room.