Review by Matthew Hocter
Ask any parent what their greatest fear is, and undoubtedly the response would be to lose a child. Given that essentially you're the custodians of those little humans for basically the rest of their lives and the thought of not being able to protect them must not just be a fear, but a pain that only a parent could know. We all know that no matter what age we are, we are still somebodies child. Given all this, The Bakehouse Theatre’s latest production, Rabbit Hole, explores this very topic and how a family is not only torn apart by every parents worst nightmare, but also how they come together to mourn the loss of a child.
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire and brought to life in Adelaide via director Joh Harthog, it is a strangely beautiful piece of theatre that is complex in its topic. There is the grieving Mother Becca (Krystal Brock), who is looking for anyway possible to get rid of anything that reminds the now childless Mother of her late son. Becca’s husband Howie (David Daradan) on the other hand has sought out a self help group which is debatable in its effectiveness. The dynamic between the couple is real and raw and at times heartbreaking to watch.
Then there is Izzy (Stefanie Russo). Becca’s wayward sister who is doing her best to support her sister, but she too has her own issues that have ramifications for her and her sisters relationship. Throw in a dominant, but caring Mother, Nat (Gail Morrison), who attempts to offer words of wisdom, more often than not, coming off as comical and end up falling on deaf ears. A totally relatable and somewhat dysfunctional family that we can all relate to, playing out in front of our very eyes.
It’s been interesting to note that the last few plays I have been to have all had strong, matriarchal figures at the heart of the family. A true reflection on reality and something that needs to be included in more work. Gail Morrison’s character of Nat, Becca and Izzy’s Mother, is someone that many of us can relate to; at times inappropriate, comical without even knowing and a loving force that needs no introduction and knows no bounds.
The story itself is one of grief and how we process it. But it is also an incredibly beautiful story that exposes the family unit and each individual’s own struggles within that unit and how they process their own grief. We see a Mother who can’t face her newfound reality and a Father that can’t let go. An Aunt who wants to share her joy bit feels ashamed and a Grandmother who is revisiting not just the loss of her grandchild, but also reliving the loss of her own son. The complexities that loss and grief pose are incredibly personal and come with no guide, something this play highlights perfectly and doesn’t shy away from.
The character of Jason, played by Liam Hennessy adds another interesting and confronting dynamic to this story, and one that must be seen. In fact, Rabbit Hole will challenge your emotions and leave even the most hardened heart empathising with a family going through the most horrendous of circumstances.
This cast is solid. The story is powerful. Rabbit Hole is a play that needs to be seen.
Image Credit: Show Team