Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Director: Lawrence Carmichael
The Rabbit Hole seems to have struck a particularly resonating chord since its inception. Premiering on Broadway in 2007, writer David Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer, and his script was made into a film with an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman. Finally, it made its way to London in 2016 at the Hampstead Theatre, and now, only a few years later, it’s back again, this time at the Union Theatre just across town.
Following the story of a couple dealing with the loss of a small child, it’s an almost unbearably heavy load for the audience, but Lindsay-Abaire’s script offers a surprising and much needed amount of levity to the subject, and plenty of true-to-life interruption; grief, Lindsay-Abaire shows us, is not one singularly pure experience, it’s messy and long and turns up in parts of life it has no business being in.
The supporting sister and mother roles, played by Ty Glaser and Emma Vansittart, are a particularly welcome reprieve, taking the acute and often protracted sting out of some of the more disconsolate scenes.
Julia Papp seems a slightly strange casting choice if only because while everyone else is pulling off a fairly convincing US accent, Papp still carries her native Hungarian, and it’s incredibly distracting given that she’s supposed to be related to two of the characters. Her chemistry with Kim Hardy, playing her husband, is also a little off. Whilst they’re supposed to be estranged, there should still be a physical familiarity, which there isn’t. Her performance is otherwise very strong though, which leads one to wonder if she was a last-minute fix in lieu of another actor.
Children’s clothes and toys hang over the stage in semi-transparent plastic, like pregnant rain clouds ready to burst. Other than that, the staging is entirely whitewashed; fairly obvious but affective imagery.
There’s nothing really wrong with this play. The subject matter is compelling, and the misery-humour mash-up is tried and tested. But it’s awfully long given that the whole story is fallout from a prior incident, and there’s something very dated about the delivery, despite not being very old. And of course it’s not really fair when you’ve got to try and out-do Nicole Kidman.
Runs until 1 May 2022