If you didn't run out to see Nicole Kidman's Academy Award-nominated performance as a grief-stricken mother in 2010's Rabbit Hole, you can be forgiven. Not everyone, including the Academy, is interested in such weighty cinematic material as the death of a young child (Kidman did not receive the Oscar nod). But it would be a mistake to sit out Cascades Theatrical Company's presentation of the David Lindsay-Abaire play that served as the basis for the film's script.
In fact, after walking out of CTC's production of Rabbit Hole, I had to let it percolate through my mind for a day. Ultimately I decided I really did like it, and I would recommend it to anyone, but with a warning: this is not a happy play. It is tragically sarcastic, but it is definitely not happy. Don't go to this play on a first date, or if you are looking for something light.
Directed by Juliah Rae, the play's story centers on the relationship between a married couple, Becca and Howie, after the death of their four-year-old son, Danny. In addition to Becca and Howie, there are three other characters; Becca's sister Izzy, her mom Nat, and Jason, the teenage boy who hit Danny in a car accident. There may not be a lot of cast members but what they lack in breadth, they make up for in depth.
As someone who doesn't have any kids, the premise of the play was a little hard to relate to. I have no idea what it is like to lose a young child, despite that I still found myself empathizing with the characters. This is what makes a good story, and what ultimately made me enjoy it. Even though I didn't always like the characters, I could always identify with them.
Becca's mom, Nat, played by Ellen Valway, faces the problem that all mothers seem to face, namely her attempts to console her daughter only leave her daughter feeling worse, or outright angry. Nat has some excellent one-liners, and plays the well-meaning, but a little too blunt parent role to a T.
But it is Erica Boismenu as Becca who steals the show. Her ups and downs and unexpected emotional breakdowns are spot on. Anyone who has had an extended, major fight with his or her significant other can identify with her performance. Her grief was obvious, but not overdone, and her frustration at being stuck in a never-ending cycle of unhappiness and helplessness makes the audience feel for her.
The 'lost loved one' storyline can be fairly predictable - people are extremely sad, but eventually find something that helps them get over their grief. Here there is no sudden cure for grief, only time will heal these wounds.
Cascades Theatrical Company, 148 NW Greenwood
$20 adults; $15 seniors; $12 students
No minors (18+)
7:30pm,Wednesday-Sat. (Sun. 2pm)
through May 6