Dark, dull days

Christi A. Eaves and Andrew Thornton play the quietly grieving parents in Rabbit Hole. Courtesy photo.

Rabbit Hole
8pm Fri-Sat & Jun 14; 2:30pm Jun 17
Through Jun 30
$15 general, $10
Lloyd Vary Performing Arts Center
Woodlawn and Main

The most otherworldly aspect of the Summer Repertory Company’s production of Rabbit Hole, is perhaps the original music by sound designer Rick Malone. Played mostly during transitions, the electronic, almost satellite-invoking score is either highly out of place in the naturalistic play, or perfectly representative of the alien nature of a parent’s everyday life after his or her little boy has died.

Anyway, don’t expect Lewis Carroll from David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winner — the closest references to the words “rabbit” or “hole” being an exchange about The Runaway Bunny (his mom was a total stalker), and a description of a short story about passages in space that lead to alternate universes. The world of Rabbit Hole is mundane; its dialogue is highly reminiscent of Donald Margulies’s Dinner with Friends.

These routine conversations occur between Becca and Howie (whose young son Danny was killed by a car), as well as with Becca’s free-spirited, cowboy-boot-sporting sister Izzy, their well-meaning mother Nat, and finally, Danny’s accidental killer, a teenager named Jason.

Eight months after Danny’s death, Becca (a suitably cold Christi A. Eanes) and Howie (Andrew Thornton) seem to be existing as though ther lives have returned to normal, but of course that isn’t the case. The two can’t bear to pack away Danny’s room, his pet dog has been sent to live with Nat, and they’ve been celibate since the accident (much to Howie’s chagrin.).

Izzy — played by Asia Ciaravino, the spitting image of Leslie Mann — announces that she’s pregnant, and Becca is thrown for another loop. The more she tries to act like it doesn’t bother her, the more it comes off that it does (for example, she absentmindedly attempts to serve Izzy alcohol on several occasions.)

Howie and Nat encourage Becca to rejoin group therapy, but the God-freaks who attend have her turned off (she prefers a scientific explanation offered to her by Jason, that the reality in which she lives is just one of many alternate universes, and there’s one where her son lives on.) Nat, too, has lost a child, Becca’s grown-up brother, but Becca dislikes the comparison between her innocent son and drug-addict brother.

The action takes place in an extraordinarily well-done set that mimics a plant- and art-laden, upper middle-class American home (a darker shade of brown paint adding depth to the implied hallway behind the dining room  — someone’s been watching HGTV). Hovering over all, on the right, like a ghost, is Danny’s room. The lamp in this space is almost never out, drawing the eye back as the rest of the lights fade to black during transitions, effectively reminding the audience of its spectre-like presence and simultaneously misdirecting their attention.

Rabbit Hole is not a revelatory play — it is very real, sometimes hackneyed. But there’s a lot of good to grab hold of — especially if you’ve experienced a life change that’s forced you to alter your purpose — and the acting in this production is some of the best to be experienced in San Antonio. Then there’s that music … 


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