The worst fear and nightmare of a parent

The worst fear and nightmare of a parent

Robert Tanitch logoRobert Tanitch reviews Rabbit Hole at Hampstead Theatre, London NW3

David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole won the Pulitzer Prize for best drama in 2007.

His earliest plays were incredibly whimsical absurdist comedies. He is also the author of the book and lyrics of Shrek the Musical.

Rabbit Hole was a major departure. There was a film version in 2010 with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.

The horror of losing a child in an accident is most parents’ worst fear and nightmare.

Eight months before the play begins a 4-year-old child runs into the road after a ball and is run over by a car driven by a teenager.

The parents’ grief has not gone away and Lindsay-Abaire examines how it affects their relationship and their relationship with mother, sister, friends and strangers.

Tom Goodman-Hill (Howie)

Tom Goodman-Hill (Howie)

Grief exacerbates their bad behaviour. They become more strained and awkward. Mother and sister prove to be very irritating.

The play is not as overwhelming as I thought it was going to be. But then Lindsay-Abaire has said the play is sad enough and he doesn’t want the director and actors to make it any sadder.

He doesn’t want the play to become a morose slog and says there is a lot of light, hope and comedy in it.

I see no evidence of hope in the performances of Claire Skinner and Tom Goodman-Hill in Edward Hall’s production, which ends on a downbeat note; and this is, surely, as it should be?

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Featured image Claire Skinner (Becca) and Georgina Rich (Izzy) in Rabbit Hole at Hampstead Theatre. Photos by Manuel Harlan.