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PLU delves into David Lindsay-Abaire’s 'Rabbit Hole'

A masterpiece of human emotion

"Rabbit Hole": The Pacific Lutheran University students nail it.

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How do you cope with a pain most people can't even conceive? How do you mourn the death of your young son? And when you know it was a senseless accident that took his life, and when there's no target for blame, where does your anger go?

David Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer exploring these questions in Rabbit Hole, and it's not hard to see why. It is a masterpiece of human emotion; raw dialogue coupled with a share of humor, the way life is.

Produced as part of a series of events on compassion by the School of Arts and Communication, Pacific Lutheran University's staging of this powerful piece succeeds on a level somewhat higher than one might expect from student performers. Seniors Kate Howland and Jordan Paul Tjarks Beck portray as Becca and Howie, parents of 4-year-old Danny, who has perished in an accident some months before.

Each has a method for dealing with the horrendous weight of grief. Howie attends group therapy and clings to artifacts of memory - a home video, Danny's dog, a refrigerator's worth of paintings. Becca seems desperate to push away the constant reminders scattered throughout their home, including the home itself.

Howland and Beck present a powerfully human portrait of these divergent reactions. Small actions force great divides between a husband and wife who remember what it was like to be in love, but have lost so much common ground in their emotional drift that they are unable to dig each other out of their independent heartache.

Rabbit Hole also provides an opportunity to further showcase the flexibility of the freshly-built Studio Theater at PLU. After The Fantasticks launched the space in minimalist fashion, using space and lighting to shape a few simple props, Rabbit Hole features a painstakingly detailed, wall-to-wall static set of the home, complete with kitchen, living room and second-story bedroom.

The set, along with the script and the performances of the entire cast, keep the show grounded in a sense of firm reality. Rabbit Hole doesn't strive to be a fable of hope or a portrait of melodramatic, tragic despair. It is simply the reality of a family struggling to find its way through the circumstances of life, and that is why it succeeds so well.

Rabbit Hole

March 16-17 at 7:30 p.m., March 18 at 2 p.m.
tickets for student works can be purchased at the door
Pacific Lutheran University - Studio Theater
1010 122nd St. S., Tacoma, 253.535.7325

Comments for "PLU delves into David Lindsay-Abaire’s 'Rabbit Hole'" (4)

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Katie said on Mar. 15, 2012 at 10:45am

Why is it you're leaving out some of the other actors that did a beautiful job in portraying other aspects of how to cope with an issue of this magnitude? In reading this article, I would have assumed it was a two person play. You've left out 3 key characters who affect how the family as a whole heals, not JUST the parents. There was an Aunt and a Grandmother who this accident affected as well, not to mention the teen who was driving the car that hit the boy. They played and insanely important part in this production and you don't even acknowledge them at all. They are hard working students and they ALL did a fabulous job in this. Abigail Pishaw, Emily Briggs, and Mitchell Helton deserve just as much praise for their hard work as Kate and Jordan.

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Joe Izenman said on Mar. 15, 2012 at 12:20pm

Katie - I absolutely agree that all three additional cast members did an excellent job, and I wish I had another hundred words or so in the budget to talk about everything I liked from top to bottom. As it was I chose to focus on what I felt was most important to the core of the play, and most able to help get butts in the seats, as it were.

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Lillian said on Mar. 15, 2012 at 5:43pm

Thank you for coming to a PLU production, and continuing to include us in the Tacoma community.

Lillian, a PLU student

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Art said on Mar. 16, 2012 at 4:59pm

Very nicely done - both the play and the review. I was not sure I would enjoy it much going in, but the performances and staging made me wish the play had gone on longer! Joe adroitly captures why it all works so well.


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