Port Tobacco Players explore grief, recovery in play opening Saturday
‘Rabbit Hole’ explores family’s search for ‘new normal’ after loss
“Rabbit Hole,” the newest drama to be performed by the Port Tobacco Players, explores the aftermath of a parent’s worst nightmare, as one family struggles to cope with the loss of a child in a tragic car accident and their attempts to establish a “new normal” and continue on with their lives.
“It’s about empathy, and about hope. You can get out of bed. You can get to your ‘new normal.’ You can get back to work. Or you can start again,” said director Heather Bauer. “It’s about the different stages of grief, and the family members who are all just tr ying to cope.”
The play, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, is being performed by the Port Tobacco Players at its theater at 508 Charles Street in La Plata for three weekends beginning Saturday and ending June 5. The performance begins at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $18 for general admission, and $15 for students, seniors and military personnel.
“Rabbit Hole,” winner of a 2007 Pulitzer Prize, follows the story of married couple Becca and Howie, whose son was killed eight months previous while chasing the family dog into the road, as they grieve each in their own fashion and struggle to reconnect after the tragedy.
Melissa Gilpin-Ball plays Becca and said the character is the exact opposite of how she would picture a grieving mother.
“She is strong, and is willing to move on, and I think is comfortable enough in her own skin to move on in the way that she feels is most fit,” Gilpin-Ball said. “For me, having two children, that kind of loss is unimaginable; I don’t know how I’d get out of bed, and she manages to go on with life.”
Dav Timmermann said having a nine-month-old daughter himself influenced how he played Howie.
“Understanding what it’s like to be a parent and having those elements be such a huge part of your life, and if it disappeared, there’d be this huge void,” Timmermann said. “I like his perspective on the matter. He’s still mourning and grieving, but he’s moved a bit on with his life and trying to get on to the next stage in his life.”
The story also follows Becca’s sister Izzy, now pregnant, and their mother, Nat, who lost her son to suicide 11 years prior.
Becky Kuhn said that playing Izzy was a stretch for her, as the carefree, rebellious sister is very different from her own personality, but she enjoyed the way Izzy develops.
“She grows up so much over the show.” Kuhn said. “Izzy starts out as the biggest mess and ends up as the smartest one in the room.”
Allison Turkel said Nat seems like a flighty character, but shows hidden depths as the play progresses.
“She’s lost her son, and she’s living with that. And now she’s lost her grandson, and it’s like her grief for her grandson, there’s no room for it. But she also has the love for her daughters, and her love for her son-in-law,” Turkel said. “At first glance, she seems like she’s rough and funny and drinking, but she’s really a complex kind of character.”
The teen driver who struck their son, Jason, also struggles with his guilt over the accident and seeks to connect with the parents through a science fiction story he wrote about alternate universes, the source of the title.
The title could also be taken to mean the hole the characters attempt to climb out of as they attempt to rebuild their lives.
Bauer said the play manages to inject moments of humor into the play in showing the interrelationships between the characters.
“You wouldn’t think there’d be laughter, but there is, it’s funny,” Bauer said. “For those people who are a little afraid of drama, particularly something of this nature, who think it’s going to be a total tear-jerker, and it’s not. It’s showing the different dynamics of the family members, and how everybody is trying to move forward.”
Dav Timmermann as Howie, Melissa Gilpin-Ball as Becca, Becky Kuhn as Izzy and Allison Turkel as Nat in the Port Tobacco Players production of “Rabbit Hole,” which opens Saturday.
Dav Timmermann as Howie and Melissa Gilpin-Ball as Becca in the Port Tobacco Players production of “Rabbit Hole,” which opens Saturday.
Melissa Gilpin-Ball as Becca and Dav Timmermann as Howie in the Port Tobacco Players production of “Rabbit Hole,” which opens Saturday.