Rabbit Hole Delivers a Command Performance

Kristen Weldon
Before an at-capacity crowd in the  Black Box Theater on the evening of November 16, a talented Kingswood Oxford Creative Arts Department delivered a noteworthy performance of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. Upon entering the small theater, each audience member walked through a free-standing black front door and entered into a new world marked by family, time and change.

Becca and Howie Corbett live in the suburbs of New York, and the audience learns early in the first scene that their four-year-old son, Danny, was killed tragically by a car after chasing his dog into the street. Their lives are immeasurably turned upside down; ten months later where this story begins, they are still struggling to navigate the unfamiliar and seethingly painful new-normal life without him. Becca, played by Maggie Eberle ‘20, is a former executive turned housewife who tries to keep an immaculate routine of housework, cooking and tending to her concerned husband, notoriously unpredictable younger sister and loving but excessive mother. Becca is plagued by the death of her son and busies herself from dealing with her daily grief.

Becca’s younger sister Izzy, played by Katie Brough ‘19, is known for her wild behavior and getting into the occasional bar fight. She announces her pregnancy which takes the family, especially her elder sister, by complete surprise. What is even more stunning is the immediacy in which she curtails her irresponsible behaviors and embraces the idea of being a mother. Howie, played by Walter Kraus ‘21, is Danny’s father, and futilely tries to find ways to bring his wife, and his life, back to a place where they can find a way to celebrate Danny’s memory and move from their stalled grief that has gripped them all. Becca and Izzy’s mom Nat, played by Brieanna Toedt ‘21, adds her comedic and eccentric personality to the plot as she openly contemplates irrelevant topics like the Kennedy family and the curse that gripped their family. She also adds a sobering element as she has lost a son 11 years earlier to an overdose, a point she frequently brings up to an unrelenting Becca who, given that the deaths were under such vastly different circumstances, doesn't want the death of her son and brother compared. An unexpected twist enters as Jason, the teenager who hit Danny, played by Charlie Coxon ‘19, comes into the fold and seeks to talk to Becca and Howie.

The play twists and turns over the course of the next few months as the characters bring to light how differently people grieve, mourn, and yet are forced to continue to live despite a tragedy that has forever changed their lives.

As director Kyle Reynolds so beautifully muses in his notes, “I am so grateful that David Lindsay-Abaire created such a sober piece of writing with the utmost real and familiar characters for my students to explore. These characters steer clear of the typical theatrical ‘caricature’ and dive deeply into some of the most whole yet crumbling human beings.”

Eberle and Brough did an extraordinary job of portraying the intimate bond between sisters who know one another well. The two find a perfect balance of humor mixed with pointed banter in an awkward environment where Izzy seeks her sister’s approval on her pregnancy while realizing the toll it could take as Becca braces to have painful memories relived as a baby is welcomed to the mix.  Eberle and Kraus delivered solid performances of a devoted husband and wife coupled with a palpable distance as they try to find sound footing amidst their still raw tragedy. This play dealt with the heaviness that comes with a loss, evoked great emotion, and illustrated how family, even in their craziest of forms, is critically important.

The prescribed location of the Black Box Theater couldn't have been more perfect for this script. Reynolds said, “The success of this production lies firmly in the place of the audience.” Such an intimate setting put the crowd physically much closer to the actors which subsequently allowed their anguish to be felt that much more.

Saturday's performance featured another cast including Olivia Coxon, Spencer Schaller, Mary Ellen Carroll, Charlie Coxon, Elsa June Ciscel and Vance Perkins.
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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