Tung's Reviews > Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
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Jan 25, 09

bookshelves: drama
Read in January, 2009

The 2007 Pulitzer-winner for Best Drama, this play is a marvelous meditation on grief and the different ways people can cope (or not cope) with their loss. Becca and Howie Corbett lose their four-year-old son in a tragic accident, and the play is a series of scenes in their life eight months later. Howie puts up a façade where he copes with his grief by regularly attending group therapy and trying to move on with his life. We see in one scene, however, when his wife is upstairs, he sneaks out a home video of their son and watches it silently by himself. Becca, on the other hand, lashes out at her husband, mother (Nat), and sister (Izzy) as they attempt to help her discuss her emotions. In one scene, Nat tries to relate to her by sharing how she felt when her son (Becca’s brother) died, and Becca calls her out on the comparison, implying that no one understands her grief and no one grieves the same way. The basic premise of parents coping with the loss of a young child is covered in many movies and books, but few allow the emotions to simmer and fester and boil over without resolution as this play does. The author actually includes a note to future casts attempting to put on his play with directions “to avoid sentimentality”, to “resist adding [tears:]” unless they are specifically called for, and to avoid “extra embracing, or holding of hands. Avoid resolution at all costs. It’s not that kind of play.” And because it doesn’t try to wrap things up tidily, or deal with everyone’s emotions in a canned or ham-handed way, the rawness of the emotions of the characters feels real, and strikes a chord with anyone who has ever dealt with the loss of a loved one. The dialogue is sharp and quick, with no overly wordy monologues, and Lindsay-Abaire breaks up the sadness with seriously funny lines and incisive retorts throughout. It’s simply a superb play, and one of my top books of the year.
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